MORT CRIM: Help from an unlikely source

MORT CRIM: Help from an unlikely source
August 24, 2005

BY MORT CRIM

When Zach Osborne was only 6, his younger sister Natalie was raped and killed by their mother's boyfriend. Thirteen years later, the killer still sits on Death Row.

For many of those years, Zach admits, he was filled with rage. But today, he says, he's found the peace and the courage to forgive the man who committed the horrible act. Now, Zach wants to become a police officer and maybe prevent such tragedies.

And you know who wants to help the 19-year-old realize that dream? A group of Death Row inmates. By raising money through a bimonthly publication called Compassion, the inmates recently gave Zach a $5,000 scholarship to help with tuition at East Carolina University, where he'll be a sophomore this fall.

And Zach's scholarship isn't the first the group has given. In all, the Compassion project -- organized by the Catholic Church's peace and justice committee -- has given out seven scholarships, totaling about $27,000.

Scholarship money is raised through subscriptions to the publication, which focuses on the "positive contributions of Death Row inmates."

Editor and Death Row inmate Dennis Skillicorn writes in a recent issue of Compassion: "We would like to support (Zach) in realizing his dream of becoming an officer of the law and finding a way to prevent future violence."

Today's thought: There's not a lot of future to look forward to on Death Row. But some inmates have found the compassion to help others realize futures of their own.