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Jarvis Jay Masters



Jarvis Jay Masters is an American currently on death row at San Quentin State Prison in Marin County, California. During his time in prison, Jarvis studied Buddhist meditation, became an advocate of nonviolence, and started writing about his experiences.

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Finding Freedom: How Death Row Broke and Opened My Heart

There are many forms of liberation—some that exist at the mercy of circumstance and others that can never be taken away.

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Finding Freedom: Writings from Death Row

Incarcerated in San Quentin at the age of 19 for armed robbery, Jarvis Masters was accused four years later of participating in a conspiracy that resulted in the death of a prison guard.

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Innocence Lost

In September 2019, Jarvis Jay Masters exhausted his final state appeal. The Buddhist author and death-row inmate at San Quentin had a hearing before the California Supreme Court in Los Angeles and did not prevail in getting the California appeals court to re-examine his case.

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The Buddhist on Death Row: How One Man Found Light in the Darkest Place

Jarvis Jay Masters’s early life was a horror story whose outline we know too well. Born in Long Beach, California, his house was filled with crack, alcohol, physical abuse, and men who paid his mother for sex.

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Another Birthday on Death Row

Jarvis Jay Masters has spent almost 30 years on death row for a crime many think he did not commit. Rebecca Solnit celebrated his 56th birthday with Masters as he seeks freedom through meditation until the day his conviction is overturned.

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That Bird Has My Wings: The Autobiography of an Innocent Man on Death Row

Jarvis Jay Masters has taken an extraordinary journey of faith. Strangely enough, his moment of enlightenment came behind the bars of San Quentin's death row.

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David Sheff Follows the Buddhist Journey of a San Quentin Inmate in Latest Book

Like a lot of people with newfound interest in Buddhist meditation, Jarvis Jay Masters struggled at first to sit still and quiet his mind.

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Michael Boatman Shares What He Learned from the Buddhist on Death Row

Watch Michael Boatman, narrator of THE BUDDHIST ON DEATH ROW by David Sheff, talk about what he learned while recording the audiobook.

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Jarvis Masters Writes from Death Row in San Quentin as COVID-19 Spreads Unchecked

Jarvis Jay Masters wrote this firsthand account of the pandemic ripping through San Quentin prison, where in early June the California authorities, with either stunning idiocy or reckless disregard for human life or some combination thereof, brought infected prisoners from elsewhere in the prison...

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Jarvis Jay Masters

A Buddhist Writer on Death Row Jarvis Masters is no longer the angry youth he was when he first entered prison in 1981. He has educated himself and become a celebrated author, dedicating his talents to the promotion of non-violent solutions to conflict.

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Pema Chödrön