About the Artist ...
James Vernon Allridge III was born on November 14, 1962, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where his father was stationed while serving in the Army. He remained there until he was 5 years of age when his father was forced to retire due to a heart condition (he now has a pacemaker). Upon his father's retirement, the family moved to Forth Worth, Texas, where his parents still live. He also has three younger brothers who live in the Dallas/Forth Worth Metroplex area.
James attended Green B. Trimple Technical High School where he was an honor student and a three-year letterman on the Tennis Team. He was offered a scholarship at an area college that he declined in order to work at his vocation of Mill & Cabinetmaking. He worked as a custom furniture builder and cabinet maker for several years. He later went into management in the Fast Food Industry and eventually co-owned and operated his own restaurant all before the age of 22.
On March 25, 1985, James was arrested along with his older brother Ronald K. Allridge, for the robbery/slaying of a Circle K. convenience store clerk. Ronald was executed by the State of Texas on June 8, 1995.
During his trial, James' court-appointed attorneys did very little to defend him. They did minimal investigation into James' background and upbringing, failing to discover information in regards to James' membership in the Jehovah's Witnesses religion and other mitigating factors that should have been presented to the jury for their consideration. He received the same inadequate representation on his initial appeal, which was denied. His court-appointed attorneys dropped off his case when it was affirmed at the State level. James has had three execution dates since being on Death Row. He came within 5 days of being executed on his last date in 1995.
Fortunately, with the help of friends and supporters in the USA and Switzerland, money was raised through the Fund of Life (FFL)... a legal fund for James...and an attorney was hired to continue his appeal.
Partly due to the inadequate job that James' court-appointed attorneys did when filing his Writ of Habeas Corpus, James' new attorney had very little to work with. However, he requested an Evidentiary Hearing to present evidence in regards to James' upbringing and membership in the Jehovah's Wittnesses that should have been heard by the jury. James' case had been mentioned in the book "Jehovah's Witnesses and the Problem of Mental Illness" by Dr. Jerry Bergman, Ph.D. Dr. Bergman had corresponded with James for many years and was intimately acquainted with the facts surrounding his case and had agreed to testify as an expert witness on James's behalf.
Unfortunately, both James' Writ of Habeas Corpus and his request for a hearing were denied in March 2001. With very little hope that future court proceedings will result in relief, his lawyer speculates that James' appeals will be exhausted within a year's time. Should this prove to be true, his only recourse will be to petition the Governor and the Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute his sentence to life. This is where he ultimately hopes to prevail.
During his incarceration, James has become a self-taught artist and writer. With no formal art training he now has over 360 works in private collections. He has been recognized for his works in colored pencil at the Annual Prison Art Show & Exhibit held in Huntsville, Texas, and his works have been on display in Washington, D.C. and most recently at "The Prison Industrial Complex" exhibit in New York City. His pen & ink illustrations have appeared on numerous newsletters throughout the U.S.A. and Switzerland. Two of his fine art drawings have appeared on the cover of the "Journal for Prisoners on Prison".
In April 1996, James had his first one-man art exhibit in Switzerland to help raise money for the FFL. Visit the Art Gallery to view some of the art work James has done over the years.
C.U.R.E. (Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants), purchased several of his illustrations for their line of all occasion note cards. Continuing in that fashion, James decided to produce his own line of handmade Christmas and all occassion greeting cards. Since 1993, they have sold throughout the U.S.A., Ireland, Switzerland, France, Australia, The United Kingdom and The Netherlands.
James also has a scattering of essays, articles, letters and poems that have been published in various publications. He has published a collection of poetry and prose entitled Deadly Executioner. It is dedicated to the men and women who have been executed by the State of Texas since the reinstatement of the death penalty.
In addition to these things, he has also gone to college at Sam Houston State University through their Correspondence Program where he majored in Business Administration and maintained a 4.0 GPA. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Lamp of Hope Project (LHP), a Death Row based organization to help educate the public on the common misconceptions surrounding the death penalty and to provide services for those here on Texas' Death Row.
James has made all of these accomplishments in a never-ending struggle to disprove the prosecution's contention that he is a "continuing threat to society". It is his hope that all of these accomplishments will receive a favorable ruling from the Board of Pardons and Paroles and work towards having his sentence cummuted to life. This is why his legal fund has been aptly named the "Fund for Life", as opposed to a "defense fund".
James has shown that he is a shining example of someone who has taken it upon themselves to rehabilitate himself while being confined on Death Row and that he deserves another chance at life. It is his hope that all his accomplishments prove that his life shouldn't be overshadowed by one terrible mistake. One day out of a life of over 38 years shouldn't be the sum total of James' worth.
James is not asking to be set free immediately. He is only asking that his sentence be commuted to life. James believes that he has made many valuable contributions to society through his art and writings and wishes to continue making those contributions, even if from a prison cell. With your help and support, he can. Will you help to save his life?
To contact James directly write to:
James V. ALLRIDGE III
3872 F.M. 350 South
Livingston, Texas 77351-9630