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Meet Vernon
April 9, 2005 9:41 AM   Subscribe

Meet Vernon | "I designed this blog to allow you to meet Vernon Lee Evans, the next person to be executed on Maryland’s death row. I will print out the emails and mail them to Vernon who is currently in a maximum security cell in Baltimore, Maryland. Vernon will mail me back his responses and I’ll post them here." TalkLeft enthuses: "Meet Vernon even has a blogroll, and TalkLeft is proud to be included on it. This is an experiment, but wouldn't it be great to see every death row inmate with a blog?" In 2003, imprisoned serial killer Jack Trawick taunted his victims from a website published with the help of an admirer. Other prison blogs here and here. [via BuzzMachine]
posted by jenleigh (38 comments total)

 
I'd rather meet Vernon's victims. Wouldn't it be great to see every victim of a death row inmate with a blog?
posted by spicynuts at 9:45 AM on April 9, 2005


fascinating stuff--did he do it? would he not be on death row if he had killed black people, as the cop said to him?

i'm glad he got a stay--hopefully there'll be more. (I think life imprisonment is better punishment, and killing people is barbaric -- unless they were Hitler or something)
posted by amberglow at 9:55 AM on April 9, 2005


Dear Vernon,

Can I have your stuff?

Thanks
posted by lemonfridge at 10:06 AM on April 9, 2005


That last link, jonsjailjournal, just wrecked my afternoon. Excellent post, jenleigh.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:21 AM on April 9, 2005


seeking a graphic designer

We're curious if there is a graphic designer out there who would be interested in adding the first blog from death row to their list of credentials.


Doesn't every murderer on death row deserve a graphic designer? Shouldn't the state provide this?
posted by TimTypeZed at 10:38 AM on April 9, 2005


This is the kind of thing that makes me embarrassed to be associated with lefties:
Posted by: BocaJeff on April 5, 2005 06:16 PM

Every convicted murderer should have a blog the day their victims have a voice too. They shouldn't be granted any more rights than those they freely took away from someone else.


Posted by: TalkLeft on April 5, 2005 06:19 PM

Victims already have a voice and can start a blog any time they want. I'm glad to see that makes you agree death row inmates can have a blog now too.
(Emphasis added.) Right, murder victims have a voice and can start a blog any time they want. And you expect us to listen to your views on how to run the country, genius?

I don't believe in the death penalty either, but the vast majority of the people on death row are vicious scumbags who deserve whatever they get; I oppose the penalty not because I want to cuddle those sweet killers but because it demeans us all to kill people, even those who may deserve it, and of course because of the possibility that the prisoner has been wrongly convicted. For preening lefties to feel it's not enough to oppose the death penalty, they have to slobber over the prisoners and thank them for a space on the blogroll and hope all vicious thugs everywhere can have blogs... well, it reminds me of those lefties I unwillingly associated with in the '60s who couldn't just oppose the war because we had no business over in Vietnam, no, they had to hold up dear sweet Uncle Ho and his gang of brutal enforcers as models of human perfection. Dumb is dumb, I don't care which side of the political spectrum you're on.
posted by languagehat at 11:45 AM on April 9, 2005


shazam languagehat.

exactly what i was thinking.
posted by three blind mice at 12:09 PM on April 9, 2005


I'm feeling a sudden, strong urge to take languagehat out on a man-date.
posted by dhoyt at 12:28 PM on April 9, 2005


One more vote for languagehat. God, I hate that.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 12:58 PM on April 9, 2005


You can't make this stuff up. Rush Limbaugh will be all over this blog using it as cannon fodder to define the left as a bunch of bleeding heart idiots who are out of touch with reality.

These people are on death row, and in a certain way I feel sorry for them since there were probably many factors out of their control that led to their current status (poverty, mental disease, abuse). But do they really need a blog? Aren't altruistic intentions best spent elsewhere than by coddling a bunch of deranged murderers?
posted by gagglezoomer at 1:17 PM on April 9, 2005


the vast majority of the people on death row are vicious scumbags who deserve whatever they get

I suppose you've been to death row and met a large selection of death row inmates? I thought that they were all monsters until I went to death row and I certainly would not say that anymore.

I agree guilty people on death row should not get special perks, and I do not waste much sympathy on them. On the other hand, some people on death row are innocent, and I have a lot of sympathy for them. And then there's the class of people on death row who are there because of quirks in the law, discrimination in the process, or because they were destroyed by traumatic events in their lives, and I do have sympathy for them too.

As far as the blog goes, I think it's interesting and illustrative of life on death row - good to have more info out there for those who are interested.
posted by Amizu at 1:29 PM on April 9, 2005


Amizu, your "quirks in the law" link goes to a story about men who are serving life sentences, not on death row. Discrimination in the process is a horrible thing that does play a huge part in this system, and one reason that I am against the death penalty. However, the people that you're referencing with both that comment and the "traumatic events in their lives" comment can still be awful, vicious people. The fact that there is discrimination in the process and that mental illness plays a role in some crimes really doesn't change the terrible, disgusting nature of some of these crimes.

In this case, I'm sorry that there were probably some racist cops that said racist things, as detailed on the blog. Doesn't make me feel a whole lot sorrier for the man who shot down two people in cold blood.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 2:14 PM on April 9, 2005


How much easier to murder those from whom we strip voice and humanity. Become voiceless, we imagine them different from us, less than human.

No doubt each death row inmate found it so much easier to believe their victims less than human....right before that capital punishment the inmate meted out.

Assuage conscience. Murder. Assuage conscience. Execute. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Ad infinitum.

For those who abhor each murder (they're all the same, whether via handgun... intravenous needle...suicide bomb...or "smart" bomb), there are right actions to take.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 2:18 PM on April 9, 2005


You can't make this stuff up. Rush Limbaugh will be all over this blog using it as cannon fodder to define the left as a bunch of bleeding heart idiots who are out of touch with reality.

As opposed to when he uses beverages, nouns, types of wood, colors, and dreams he's had recently as cannon fodder to define the left as a bunch of bleeding heart idiots who are out of touch with reality?
posted by queen zixi at 2:40 PM on April 9, 2005


There's no reason to make it EASY for him
posted by gagglezoomer at 3:05 PM on April 9, 2005


Who cares? He's a loud-mouth dropout with an anal cyst and a nasty pill habit. His denunciations of 'the left' have less credibility than the strident condemnations of the 'big government tyranny of diapers' issued by your neighborhood's shit-pants derelict.
posted by trondant at 3:20 PM on April 9, 2005


fascinating stuff--did he do it? would he not be on death row if he had killed black people, as the cop said to him?

Isn't the problem here that people who murder black people don't get the death penalty as they rightly deserve? As an argument against the execution of Vernon Lee Evans, this is as piss-poor as they come.
posted by Goedel at 3:59 PM on April 9, 2005


or is it that if you're a black person and kill a white person, you're more likely to get the death penalty than if you'd killed another black?

(and on the news just now, they announced that Eric Rudolph cut a plea deal--he won't get death. Why didn't this guy get the same kind of deal?)
posted by amberglow at 4:04 PM on April 9, 2005


Goedel, it also shows that white people are valued more than black in our society too.
posted by amberglow at 4:05 PM on April 9, 2005


How much easier to murder those from whom we strip voice and humanity. Become voiceless, we imagine them different from us, less than human.

Anyone who kills an innocent human being in cold blood deserves to die in my book, and the killing of such a lowlife is not called "murder": that term is properly reserved for his/her victims.

Call me hard-hearted, but I'm not one to spill tears for vicious killers, and frankly I think those who do are soft in the head. If there is a problem with the death penalty, it isn't the bogus notion that having murderers put to death is "wrong", but the risk that those being put to death might actually be innocent of the crimes for which they are being executed. If I were 100% sure that Vernon Lee Evans were guilty of the crimes he'd been accused of, I'd have absolutely no problem pulling the switch, no matter how loudly he proclaimed his humanity before my eyes: anyone who values his own life so much ought to have thought twice before depriving others of theirs.

or is it that if you're a black person and kill a white person, you're more likely to get the death penalty than if you'd killed another black?

Then perpetrators of black on black murder ought to face equally high odds of meeting with a lethal injection. The right way to show equal value for black and white lives isn't to punish the murder of white people less harshly but to punish killers of black people more severely.
posted by Goedel at 4:10 PM on April 9, 2005


How about if we act civilized and don't kill any of them? Life in prison without parole is far more punishing, i think. Death lets them off easy. Let them sit and stew for 50 years.
posted by amberglow at 4:13 PM on April 9, 2005


I can not wait for that POS to breathe his last. Many hopes that Maryland adopts Texas' quicker road to the end policy.

What is letting them "stew for 50 years" going to do for the victim's families? Will they be able to come back in 50 years and get relief/solace from the look of a wasted 50 years behind bars on the face of the piece of crap that killed their loved one? All that sitting around will really punish them! That will really help the families to hear that.

Being civilized would be letting them choose their method of death. They have already proven that they are not civilized and not capable of being so, in so far as, one of the principles of civilization/being "civil" is not killing others. You really only get one chance to mess that up.

"Death lets them off easy." Convicted of murder + on death row = it's no longer about THEM.
posted by mrblondemang at 1:57 AM on April 10, 2005


one of the principles of civilization/being "civil" is not killing others

Er, mrblondemang, how exactly do you square that belief with your support for the death penalty?


Anyway, fascinating stuff, jenleigh.

(Reminded me a bit of Michael Alig's conversations with James St. James from prison. He's, uh, rather more flippant about his position, though.)
posted by jack_mo at 4:20 AM on April 10, 2005


I am deeply deeply opposed to the death penalty, maybe because I am a loony left wing bleeding heart liberal who would hug a mugger if he tried to stab me....but also because I have a friend on Death Row in Texas who I have never met but corresponded with for several years.

We have never discussed the details of his crime, but when I looked it up on the internet, I found it hard to reconcile the facts with a man I knew to be kind, considerate, lonely and very human. Maybe some of you will think I have been manipulated or duped, or that the only reason I can continue to correspond with him and consider him my good friend is that deep down I believe him to be innocent.

Most people on death row have committed horrific crimes, and yet there are ordinary people who write to them, and call them friends. It's not about slobbering over the poor 'sweet killers', but about acknowledging their potential for good, even after all the terrible things that they have done. The Death Penalty negates that entirely.
posted by middlebean at 5:56 AM on April 10, 2005


Aside from all that, anyone who doesn't already know the extraordinary story of Bud Welch should read this
posted by middlebean at 6:05 AM on April 10, 2005


What is letting them "stew for 50 years" going to do for the victim's families? Will they be able to come back in 50 years and get relief/solace from the look of a wasted 50 years behind bars on the face of the piece of crap that killed their loved one?

What is letting the murderer "die a relatively painless death" going to do for the victims' families? Why don't we let them poke the murderer in the eye with a sharpened stick until it kills him?

I can't tell you how much sympathy I have for the families and loved ones of murder victims. However, revenge is a stupid reason to kill someone, even a "POS." We cannot penalize someone on the basis of making the victims (or victim's families) feel better. It won't work anyway.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 6:09 AM on April 10, 2005


It's not about slobbering over the poor 'sweet killers', but about acknowledging their potential for good, even after all the terrible things that they have done. The Death Penalty negates that entirely.

That's the point of the thing: when you decide to murder an innocent human being, you forfeit your own right to actualize any "potential for good" you may or may not have within you.

We cannot penalize someone on the basis of making the victims (or victim's families) feel better. It won't work anyway.

What a load of happy-clappy, kumbaya nonsense. That's the thing with living in an ideological echo-chamber: one starts to confuse widely repeated nostrums with empirical facts. The truth is that the death penalty works.
posted by Goedel at 12:24 PM on April 10, 2005


It isn't about revenge, rather, it's about keeping civilization in check. Those that aren't civilized kill others. No matter how you spin it, the only penalty that can equal the intentional death of another is death. It's a pretty simple equation. Killing another means you forfeit your life, as you have proven you have no regard for human life. Murderers have shown that they will take life away for reasons such as money, revenge, property, etc. For this- proof that are not civil, some want them to continue to be part of our civilization.

Jack_mo, I don't need to "square that belief" in any way. Civilization on a whole has tacitly and literally put forth this guideline for centuries; long before churches and other special interest groups where around to put there opinions in. Death as a punishment for murder is not murder.

Societies/countries that claim they are enlightened and "more civilized" because they do not have a death penalty are putting forth the message that murder is ok...that there is no ultimate penalty to pay- just a paid retirement from society at large. No matter the numbers say, that is the result.

It astounds me at how quick some people are to defend the murderers and cast the victims aside. Astounding. Again, however, this is not about using the death penalty to make the victim's families feel better; it is about having a real deterrent against those who would commit murder and actually following through with it.




Goedel, you are right on point. Cheers.
posted by mrblondemang at 12:31 PM on April 10, 2005


Grrr....should be "...around to put THEIR opinions in." in the 2nd paragraph.


posted by mrblondemang at 12:34 PM on April 10, 2005


What a load of happy-clappy, kumbaya nonsense. That's the thing with living in an ideological echo-chamber: one starts to confuse widely repeated nostrums with empirical facts. The truth is that the death penalty works.

With your poor reading comprehension skills, I'm shocked that you got all the way through the articles you linked to. When I said, "It won't work anyway," I was clearly referring to using the death penalty as some kind of palliative for victims' families, as argued by mrblondemang, not the deterrent effect of the death penalty.

But since you brought it up. . .other than serving as convenient fodder for conservative groups, the work that you posted hasn't exactly settled the issue. There are significant problems with using multiple regression modeling on this kind of issue. Most studies done in the last 50 years have found exactly the opposite. Were you just not aware of them, or are you purposely ignoring things that don't confirm your opinion?

Ideological echo chamber indeed.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 1:57 PM on April 10, 2005


the blood thirst is strong in this thread

it's like that place where they keep killers, all in a long row, oh, whaddyoucallit...
posted by Hat Maui at 2:15 PM on April 10, 2005


oh, and nice lefty baiting, jenleigh. i'd start making threads out of free republic comments but i haven't the stomach for it.

languagehat, you're a lefty like tammy bruce is a lefty with that kind of shit. "preening." please. what kind of rational appraisal of any segment of the left can be had by one talkleft comment, i don't know, but don't let that interfere with your broom of overgeneralization.

I'm feeling a sudden, strong urge to take languagehat out on a man-date.

have fun on your man date, boys. order your meat rare.
posted by Hat Maui at 2:24 PM on April 10, 2005


it's like that place where they keep killers, all in a long row, oh, whaddyoucallit...

Texas
posted by thatwhichfalls at 2:24 PM on April 10, 2005


languagehat, you're a lefty like tammy bruce is a lefty with that kind of shit. "preening." please. what kind of rational appraisal of any segment of the left can be had by one talkleft comment, i don't know, but don't let that interfere with your broom of overgeneralization.

Hat Maui, I've probably known more lefties than you've ever dreamed of, but don't let that interfere with your balloon of self-justifying fantasy. I don't want to puncture it, though, so... You're absolutely right: all lefties are pure, innocent creatures who want only the good of all mankind. Only evil, bad right-wingers make fallacious arguments, kill people, and generally do things that make the baby Jesus cry. If only we would all read [insert your favorite leftie splinter-group publication here] and sing Kumbaya together, the world would be a beautiful place!

Oh, and I didn't see jenleigh do any "lefty baiting": she quoted the Vernon blog and she quoted TalkLeft. If you think TalkLeft is a sad, sad parody of the left wing, take it up with them, not jenleigh or me.
posted by languagehat at 2:38 PM on April 10, 2005


With your poor reading comprehension skills, I'm shocked that you got all the way through the articles you linked to.

Gee, who knew that "It won't work anyway" was so damn difficult to understand? Maybe it isn't my reading skills which are at issue, but your own piss-poor command of the English language. In any case, even taking your statement on your terms, how the hell do you know that families don't obtain any palliative benefit from seeing the murderers of their kin put to death? Are you a mind-reader? When the families of victims demand the death penalty, are they suffering from false consciousness in your eyes?

There are significant problems with using multiple regression modeling on this kind of issue. Most studies done in the last 50 years have found exactly the opposite.

Go ahead, teach me statistics; being mathematically incompetent, I am obviously utterly ignorant of the subject ... <snicker>.

Save the lecture on the General Linear Model for someone who actually needs it; your argument is inconsistent on its own terms - if there "are significant problems" with using multiple regression modelling in determining the effect of the death penalty, then this applies at least as much to the papers you wish to point to as providing contradictory evidence, and for every paper of the type produced by Berk* you can put forward, I can bring up 4 or 5 within the past few years to support my position, which happens to gibe with the common-sense observation that people respond to incentives, and (religious fanatics aside) there is no incentive more powerful to most people than the wish to stay alive, even hardened criminals. If this weren't so, most of them wouldn't bother with appeals against the death penalty, let alone allowing them to drag on for decades.

*Berk's paper is fundamentally dishonest, as it amounts to cherry-picking the data to arrive at his desired conclusion; why choose to exclude as "anomalous" the very states in which the death penalty is most often applied, and which are therefore the best testing grounds for its powers of deterrence?
posted by Goedel at 2:48 PM on April 10, 2005


For the record, I'll also add that Ted Goertzel's impressionistic rant in the Skeptical Inquirer says a lot more about his own mathematical inadequacies than it does about the supposed shortcomings of econometrics, and I'm about as likely to take such a diatribe seriously coming from a sociologist(!) as I would a critique of Arrow and Debreu's proof of the existence of general equilibrium issuing from an Austrian math-phobe - in other words, not at all. Anyone who believes as Goertzel does that sophisticated mathematics has nothing worthwile to say about the "real world" is welcome to abandon all the benefits of modern science, as it rests on mathematical foundations far more sophisticated than the one he bitches about. "It's too complex for me to understand!" is no more valid an argument in statistics than it is when we're dealing with Hilbert spaces or differential forms.
posted by Goedel at 3:04 PM on April 10, 2005


Maybe it isn't my reading skills which are at issue, but your own piss-poor command of the English language.

Oh, my apologies. Given that no one in the entire thread had even mentioned the deterrent effect, or lack thereof, I hadn't realized that I needed to exclude it as a possible interpretation. I forgot to take into account your hard-on to drag out this particular dead horse.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 3:06 PM on April 10, 2005


That's the point of the thing: when you decide to murder an innocent human being, you forfeit your own right to actualize any "potential for good" you may or may not have within you.

That can't be a truism, otherwise political leaders who order military strikes knowing there will be "collateral damage" should be on death row.
posted by Amizu at 5:05 PM on April 10, 2005


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