A BRITISH woman has spent more than £8000 flying around the world to meet convicted killers on death row.
Mary Hardiman, from Stockport, Cheshire, has been ditching her yearly holiday in the sun for a trip to maximum security jails in America after she started writing to inmates waiting to die.
She even takes husband Hughie, 55, along with her too – spending their yearly two-week holidays sightseeing around a schedule of prison visits.
Mary, 54, has spent the last four years writing letters to three pen pals on death row, and is hoping to fly to Arkansas to meet her third killer in the flesh – who killed his father and stabbed a female prison officer to death
She’s already clocked up visits to Louisiana and Texas to visit two other inmates , and says her husband and son, Kieran, 20, are supportive of their usual trips.
Mary, who works as a counsellor, said: “It’s about looking past their crimes and finding out who these people really are.
“I have spent money out of my own pocket to visit the prisoners that I have become friends with.
“I would usually always opt for a sunny beach holiday but over the last year we have holidayed around notorious prisons.
“I started writing to these prisoners through a charity four years ago, after I heard about a lifelines charity through a Catholic conference.
“It’s fair to say that trips like these are not for everyone, but we come back with incredible stories and we think it’s a far more selfless way to spend our time.
“But we don’t just visit prisons, when we go away we treat it as our holiday and visit the area, so it’s also a holiday in Texas as well as visiting one of my pen pals.
Most recently, Mary, started writing to death row inmate Charles Mamou, who has been awaiting lethal injection for murdering a woman in 1999.
She said: “Chucky is a really funny man, he’s very literate and has educated himself whilst he’s been in prison.
“I asked him if he would want me to be in the room when he is due to be executed and if he wants me to be there I will be.”
She’s also corresponding with another inmate in Louisiana who she has visited, and is also planning to fly across the pond to meet a third man in Arkansas.
Mary said: “I met a second death row inmate in Louisiana, and the man I’m about to go and meet in Arkansas killed his father and stabbed a female prison officer to death.
“It’s very easy to read what they have done and judge them solely on their crime but if we held everyone to their biggest mistake nobody would be seen as perfect.
“My husband and son are both very supportive, they understand why I do it.
“I never know what they’ve done and if they tell me that’s up to them, it starts with saying hello and the conversation grows from there.”
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Mary first visited the death row inmates after becoming friends with them by writing them letters.
She said: “I watched an amazing conference about other people who were doing the same thing.
“When it ended, a charity asked if anyone else was interested in becoming a pen pal for prisoners on death row and after a bit of thought I decided to do it.
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