Words, whether in print or in speech, are cheap and unreliable. Living examples tested by trial, however are rare and beautiful. In the journey of life such living examples of truth are few and far between. Today, I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that such peace in the midst of heartache can indeed be a reality. I believe, not because I have heard, but because I have seen. I have found a light in one of the darkest places on this earth, and this light has warmed my heart and taught me by example more about the love and peace of God than any church or sermon ever could. The place is prison, death row. The light, one of the purest, most peaceful, and loving souls on earth.
Pamela Lynn Perillo was born December 3, 1955. Her earliest memories are of an abusive, alcoholic father, and a mother who abandoned her at an early age. Alone in every sense of the word, this innocent child wandered into the streets of one of the largest cities in the U.S where she became enslaved to a life of drugs and crime. Science has proven that personality traits of an indivdual are developed in the first five years of life. Science and education stress the necessity of love in shaping and molding a child. And yet, even with this knowledge, Pam takes responsibility for her actins.
At the age of 24 Pamela turned herself in for robbery and murder. Against overwhelming odds, her conscience had not only survived but prevailed. Soon after, she was sentenced to death. Today, she has no regrets concerning her confession. With a sad smile, and a twinkle in her eye, she insists only that she is thankful to have had the opportunity to learn about the love and peace of Christ, something she would never have learned in the world from which she came.
Pamela lives with the forboding cloud of death ever present and yet she is unafraid. As she speaks of her execution I see courage in her eyes. Her faith in God is unwavering. She wants so much to live, and yet she has found the strength to accept and face whatever comes. I have learned from Pam that courage in any situation is possible, and that true courage is simply fear that had said its prayers.
Her heart is no stranger to thoughts of sadness and pain. "A day never passes when I don't think of the victims of my crime and pray for their families." she explains. She thinks often of those whom she now loves and the possibility that her time with them will soon end, and yet amid the sadness there is hope and never ending faith.
Pamela accepts with patience a life of hard work and conformity. She has few material possessions, no privacy, and no right to make decisions about her own life. When she speaks of inflexible prison rules there is no trace of anger or resentment. When asked about the blisters on her hands, her response is one of memories. As I look at Pamela I see wisdom, faith, and peace. It is a wisdom gained through experience, a faith made strong by countless trials, and a peace which can only be found in God. Pamela's soul is indeed a light in a world of darkness, a light confined but not dimmed by heartache and imprisonment. Though few have the opportunity to feel the warmth of her smile, it is nonetheless rare and beautiful. It is my earnest prayer that God will allow Pamela's life to "shine" for many years to come.
"Full many a gem of purest ray serene the dark unfathomed caves of the ocean bear." Thomas Gray
Return to Pamela Perillo's Page
The Canadian Coalition
Against The Death Penalty
The CCADP offers free webpages to Death Row Inmates in the U.S.A.