A Letter to a Death Row Inmate

Some of you are wondering what and why I wrote to a death row inmate. Here is why…

I recently watched the Netflix series “I am a killer”. Episode 9, Living with consequences, touched my heart. Joshua Nelson killed a friend because he wanted his car. It was a horrible and messed up action that he took to gain a car. He is now living on death row awaiting his execution date.

The episode talked about his childhood. It was said that he was sexually abused by his mother’s boyfriend or husband (I can’t remember exactly). This is not something a child should have to experience in their lives, ever. It does not excuse his actions later in life. It does, however, show a history that could have influenced his way of thinking. The same day he committed the crime, his mother had kicked him out of his house because of something the man had said to her. I do know that he had talked about killing someone prior to the incident with his mother. I am not saying this man is wrong or that he is right. He did something horrible and he should have consequences for his actions. Do I think he should be executed for his crime? No, I do not think he should be. I think he should live the rest of his life in prison.

As you all know, I do a lot of work within myself. I do what I can to support people through difficult and/or amazing times in their lives. I want to inspire people to be the best versions of themselves as they can. I felt that I needed to let this man know the things I wrote because I believe he has understood what he has done. I feel that he has really taken the time to get in touch with himself. I could not let a man on death row die without knowing someone out there understands and sees the things he wants people to see.

People may have some negative reactions to this. That is fine. I am at peace with what I have written. I am at peace with the fact that not everyone will understand the reasons behind what I wrote.

For the first part of the letter I wrote some personal things about my mother’s past to relate to him in the way I felt I needed too. Out of respect for my mom and her journey with her past I left this part out of the letter. This may make the letter seem off because a huge part was left out. I thought about not posting the letter and keeping it to myself as well. Something inside me says that I have to post this for some reason or another that is unknown to me at this time. One day, I will know the reason I had to post this.

So…. The letter I wrote to a Death Row Inmate…

Nelson, Joshua, #0-989102
​Union Correctional Institution
7819 N.W. 228th Street
Raiford, Florida 32026-4000


Hello Joshua,

My name is Ashley Sprinkel. I watched the show “I am a killer” on Netflix. I watched your episode. By the end, I was moved to write you a letter. Your story touched me in a way that I had to find a way to let you know what was on my heart.

I know what I went through is nothing compared to what you have been through. I do not know what my letter will do for you and you’re life. I felt lead to write what is on my heart so I am sharing what is in my heart. Here is my story…

For you to understand a little bit about why I am writing this I have to tell you a bit about myself. I am an American living and working in Costa Rica. Getting here was not an easy thing for me to accomplish. I grew up in a household that was intense for many parts of my childhood. I can put myself in your shoes because of the experiences I have had…..

(deleted section)

I am working to overcome my defects that I have from my childhood. I am learning to forgive and be at peace with many things. I have always dealt with depression and anxiety. I followed what everyone told me I should do. I have hurt many people with my actions and words. I was emotionally crazy. I would yell and scream and blame everyone for my problems. It was never my fault. I lived as though no one loved me and everyone would leave. Since my mom had her childhood issues to deal with and my dad worked during the day and went to school at night I only had my grandmother. She died when I was 9 and my life changed. I felt as though I didn’t have anyone and everyone I loved was going to leave. This affected me in many, many ways. That are not really important for this letter. Fast forward a little….

I got married when I was 21. By the time, I was 23 I was getting divorced. He had left me for another woman. I lost myself completely. He was my life, so when he was gone I didn’t know what to do with myself. My depression and anxiety were the worst I had experienced. I missed work for a week. I drank every weekend to numb the pain. This lasted for about 2 months. I got to the point where I needed a better life than the one I was living. So, I screamed and yelled to the universe to show me the way to a better life. I will fight and I will do everything I possibly can to grow and be the person I know I am supposed to be. This was 7 year ago. I have kept that promise. I figured out what my purpose in life was. I figured out why I go through the things I go through. I have forgiven people and learned things about myself and life I never knew was possible.

Two years ago, I graduated college and got recently engaged. I started teaching at a local charter school. I was so excited to start teaching and influencing young children. This lasted for about 5 months. I got physically sick because of the stress the school environment caused me. I spoke to my fiancé and we decided it was best for me to quit even though I didn’t have another job lined up. I left worked and never went back. I tried to get a job for three weeks after this. I had many offers. None of them were something that would work for me. I have always wanted to teach abroad. Me and my fiancé talked about me going away for a year to experience a different culture and to live on my own for once. He agreed and a month later I was in Costa Rica.

That happened a year and half ago. This has been one of the most amazing years of my life. I am no longer engaged because I realized he wasn’t the man for me. I have a peace and love for life, I have never had before. I realized what my purpose was for this life. My purpose is to change the world. The things I go though and feel have helped me add something good to this world. I started a blog about the things I learn and grow from. I have been writing it since I decided to move to Costa Rica. I no longer deal with depression. I have a relationship with my family that I could never have imagined would be possible. I have inspired many people, some I know and some I have never met. My blog and way of living and thinking has been an encouragement for me and others. This brings me to why I am writing you this letter.

As I watched your story, I felt the conviction and heart you have for what you have done. I wanted you to know that there is someone out there that your story has touched. I want you to know that yes you did something horrible and you can have freedom from that. Even if no one forgives you, you can forgive yourself. You can give yourself the redemption that you need to have before you go into your next life. I realized that I have the ability to free myself from any situation with my thoughts and way of thinking about things. I believe that being in the cell alone has helped you see who you really are. Being alone with yourself makes you face yourself. Being alone is one of the best things you can give yourself. That is where you can find freedom even though you are trapped in a cell. I want you to know that I believe that you have grown from the crime you committed. Your facial expressions, tone of voice, and energy have shown me that you are at peace. You have given yourself the best gift you could. You do not deserve to die for the crime you committed. Other people who were on the show don’t have the same energy and understanding about what they did as you do. Society is not fair because people are blinded by their own past just as you were when you committed your crime. I can see you without seeing what you have done. I don’t see a murder. I see a man that is sorry for what he has done. I see a man that wants a chance to show the world who he really is. I see a man who has spent some time dealing with himself so he could live the best life he can with the situation he is in. You are more than the crime you committed. I know I am not telling you something you don’t already know. I am telling you this because I don’t want you to die thinking no one saw who you really are.

I understand that things aren’t always cut and dry. Things aren’t always what they seem to be. It is up to us as individuals to see that. It is up to us to change the world by changing ourselves. You have inspired me to keep doing what I am doing. I know that people will think I am crazy for writing an inmate on death row the things I have written. And I do not care because I felt this is what I needed to do.

Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for being an inspiration for me to keep living my purpose. I am thankful for your story. Keep the peace you have within yourself. I hope that this letter leaves you well.




22 thoughts on “A Letter to a Death Row Inmate

    1. Why do women always write to men in prisons. Why not spend your time writing to men who serve a country and risk their life and go to war etc not who play games and know how to manipulate and sit in front of a camera and look sad! Come on, get a grip. If you want attention go to a social not write to a man in prison. These guys will be getting enough fan letters that yours won’t matter, but you’ll be told it will! Lol

  1. I unfortunately live in Costa Rica. If he did write back it will take a while for me to receive it. Mail is slow. I couldn’t let him die without knowing someone sees him for more than a killer. Even if the letter didn’t make it to him for some reason the energy is in the universe. You should write him if you feel lead to! 💕

      1. I haven’t received anything! It would be cool if he did write back though. I would love to know if he got the mail. :o)

    1. I have actually been corresponding with him. It is more about allowing a man to exist in a human capacity during his last stretch of life on this earth

      1. 7819 N.W. 228th Street
        Raiford, Florida 32026-4000
        Mailing Address:
        Post Office Box 1000
        Raiford, FL 32083

        That’s the address to send it to

          1. Did anyone ever get a reply from him? I honestly would love to know if this man knows what an affect his story has had on people

          2. No. I haven’t heard anything from him. I would love to know if he received the letter. I am sure he knows how much he has impacted people with his story. :o)

  2. I believe this man has a good heart, death is not what he should be facing, he committed a terrible act this is clear, but it is also clear he is a good man……I only wish I could save him but the sick laws of this country will not permit such good acts

  3. I too wrote to Joshua, many years ago (at least 15yrs ago probably more), he did write back to me and we kept in touch for a short time, i think it was actually my fault that we stopped as life got kind of crazy for a while. I wonder if I should get in touch with him again, though I suspect he’s had lots of people contact him since hearing his story.

    I haven’t watched his episode yet, and in fact it was coming across the programme that made me google to see how he was doing and discovered he had his own episode.

  4. His ephisode made me feel bad for him too. I dont think he deserves death. I can see his heart. It was just a crazy day one big mistake, plus he was very young. What he did is wrong, but there are many worse people criminals out there. drug dealers and so on. I dont see him a treat to a society. I wish he gets lesser sentence. He definitely dont deserve to die.

  5. I am SO SO SO glad you wrote to Joshua. I too felt the same after seeing his story. He certainly does not belong on death row. Or even in prison any longer. Hes done his time. He killed someone accused of sexual violence. He made the world a safer place. He does not deserve to be there. I just want to thank you for relating to him and taking the time to write to him and say all that you did. I hope it brought him some inner peace.

  6. Ummmmm…..The majority of your letter to him is about yourself my darling. Not sure what reaction you expect from that.

    Seems you were hoping for a response. Maybe he hasn’t responded because you haven’t asked him anything. You haven’t actually engaged with him.

    1. I am not expecting a response. In his documentary, he had some emotions and thoughts that I was trying to let him know are seen by people. I wanted him to know that he is a good man and not this monster that people see him as. I did not write it intending for a response. I wrote it to make sure he knew at least one person in this world believes in him and sees him as a different person. I also do not live in the United States so for him to send a letter is probably impossible from prison. Thank you for your concern.

  7. Just watched it tonight. I was a correctional officer before becoming a police officer. His story is so sad. I just wish Tina had reported Tommy. Maybe he would’ve led a productive life. I stated to my wife that I could agree with some old fashioned justice, but murder was too far. It’s a shame his mind was so warped due to his environment that it went too far. After dealing with thousands of convicted criminals, fugitives and offenders I believe him. I think he does have a good heart, but a warped mind. He could’ve made a difference in society had a few things not went against him.

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