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Ronald Taylor - A Letter
From Death Row
(November 2008)

Recently, I was interviewed by a television reporter, Marcie Cipriani, who had been receiving letters from a prisoner on death row.

Ronald Taylor has been on death row at Graterford Prison, near Philadelphia, for killing three people and wounding two others at a Mc Donald's Restaurant eight years ago. His case is up for appeal next month.

His letters to the reporter began in a mild and almost cordial way with the words "If you would still like to pay a visit, I'll be glad to except it when ever your time is convenient… Until then you take care...Very truly yours, Ronald Taylor," and quickly progressed to "You know Marcie, with all due respect to you and certainly no offense; but, I really thought that you were smarter & keener than you look… you actually thought I'm interested in accepting your visitation here @ SCI-Graterford? No f****** way, you half-witted bigot..."

Beyond his angry words, Taylor's handwriting reveals the inner workings of his mind.

Ron Raylor

If you only have a teeny–weenie sheet of paper, sometimes you need to write to the edge of the page in order to fit all your words in. However, if you have plenty of paper, as Ron Taylor had, margins can be very important in detecting how (and if) someone stays within the boundaries.

Do you see how Taylor writes right through the red vertical line on the paper? That red line represents society. People who believe that the rules of society don't apply to them will disregard that red line. 'Who cares?" they say "That red line is not for me, that rule is for you. In fact NO rules apply to me!" In each of the letters Taylor wrote to Cipriani, he started with "Ms. Cipriani" and didn't violate the red line. As Taylor continued and his words became angry and violent, he ignored the ruled left margin and wrote through it. Then at the end, when his words again became nice, he once again obeyed the red line rule.

In many of his letters, not only does Taylor disregard the vertical red line, he ignores the horizontal lines on the paper, as well, squeezing in 2 lines of his block-printed writing in the space intended for one line of writing.

On September 28, 2008, Taylor sent Cipriani a "questionnaire." By the fourth line of the questionnaire, Taylor's handwriting and words changed from civil to not-so-civil, and his spacing changed from normal to compressed, with 2 lines of writing per ruled line. By the sixth line, it's clear that Taylor isn't just asking a reporter questions, he's providing all the answers. The questionnaire ends with a string of profanities, and the words "NO FURTHER QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS." For a man like Ronald Taylor, staying within society's lines – whether on paper, in conversation, and in life – is virtually impossible.

View Marcie Cipriani's story on Ronald Taylor.

Michelle Dresbold is a nationally known handwriting expert and personality profiler. Are you a doodler? Have a personal question or problem? Mail your doodles and handwritten letters to: The Handwriting Doctor, P.O. Box 1161, Monroeville, PA 15146.

© Copyright 2008 Michelle Dresbold and James Kwalwasser