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That Bird Has My Wings

That Bird Has My Wings

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Author: Masters, Jarvis Jay

The moving memoir of a Death-Row inmate who discovers Buddhism and becomes an inspirational role model for fellow inmates, guards, and a growing public

In 1990, while serving a sentence in San Quentin for armed robbery, Jarvis Masters was implicated as an accessory in the murder of a prison guard. A 23-year-old African-American, Jarvis was sentenced to death in the gas chamber. While in the maximum security section of Death Row, using the only instrument available to him-a ball-point pen filler-Jarvis has written an astounding memoir that is a testament to the tenacity of the human spirit and the talent of a fine writer.

Offering us scenes from his life that are at times poignant, revelatory, frightening, soul-stirring, painful, funny and uplifting, That Bird Has My Wings tells the story of the author’s childhood with parents addicted to heroin, an abusive foster family, a life of crime and imprisonment, and the eventual embracing of Buddhism. Master’s story drew the attention of luminaries in the world of American Buddhism, including Pema Chodron, who wrote a story about him for O Magazine and offers a Foreword to the book.

Twenty-two years after his conviction, Masters is still on Death Row-but things have changed. The California Supreme Court has ordered an investigation into whether newly discovered evidence points to his innocence, which could result in the overturn of Jarvis’s conviction and death sentence. A growing movement of people believe Masters is innocent, and are actively working within the legal system to free him.