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And now for something really depressing
May 2, 2001 9:15 AM   Subscribe

And now for something really depressing - the Texas Department of Criminal Justice maintains a database including the 'last statements' of all inmates executed since 1982.
posted by OneBallJay (32 comments total)

 
From a brief look-through, it seems that about half of those executed still claimed innocence. Some, of course, have been lying so long they have even deceived themselves. But for the rest, I would think that there wouldn't be anything to lose by telling the truth at the end -- you'll still be executed, regardless. How many really were innocent?
posted by OneBallJay at 9:16 AM on May 2, 2001 [1 favorite]


Not only that, but if you go here, you can see what they requested for their final meal.
posted by keli at 9:27 AM on May 2, 2001


How many really were innocent?

Answer: too many.
posted by jpoulos at 9:27 AM on May 2, 2001 [1 favorite]


Feelings about capital punishment aside, I think this is extremely interesting. A look into the minds of people facing imminent death. I almost wish I could hear the recordings so I could get a sense of the tone in the voices - most of these read so calmly. And almost everyone says something like "I love you" or "I love y'all". Very interesting.
posted by starvingartist at 9:28 AM on May 2, 2001


He. Almost a year ago.
posted by tremendo at 10:02 AM on May 2, 2001


Hey, I go to this site all the time. It's about the only place I can view my relative's pictures on the internet.
posted by bradth27 at 10:09 AM on May 2, 2001


Final meals, #123: Asked that final meal be provided to a homeless person

What are the chances that that happened?
posted by starvingartist at 10:10 AM on May 2, 2001


What's with this one? Did he not finish his statement or...? I don't know too much about executions, but I thought the last statement came before they started the process.
posted by pnevares at 10:16 AM on May 2, 2001


This one has a creepy floating head : http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/statistics/deathrow/drowlist/jonesch.jpg
posted by jragon at 10:22 AM on May 2, 2001


Here's my favorite one:
Date of Execution: August 9, 2000
Offender: Roberson, Brian #886
Last Statement:
Since I have already said all I need to say to all my loved ones, I'm not going to say anything to y'all at this time. Y'all know I love you and y'all know where we're at. I will see y'all when you get there. So this is my statement. To all of the racist white folks in America that hate black folks and to all of the black folks in America that hate themselves: the infamous words of my famous legendary brother, Matt Turner, "Y'all kiss my black ass." Let's do it.
posted by ColdChef at 10:34 AM on May 2, 2001 [2 favorites]


I remember when we discussed this the first time. It's still one of the most shocking things I have ever seen on the web.

Truly, the state of Texas executes people with alarming frequency. One more reason "not to mess" with the folks down there.
posted by aladfar at 10:35 AM on May 2, 2001


I really like some of the "final" final words. "Let's do this." "Let's go, warden."
posted by pnevares at 10:36 AM on May 2, 2001


Wow, this is...well...amazing. It may be morbid curiosity, but I have a feeling that I am going to be spending a good chunk of the day reading this.
posted by Hackworth at 10:42 AM on May 2, 2001


That's . . . a lot of dead people courtesy of the state. Wow. (Yes. Yes, I know that there's a lot of dead people courtesy of the offenders. No need to point that out. Really.)

This one just gave me chills. I don't know why . . . it's kind of disjointed and weirdly tender, but just . . . brrr.
posted by Skot at 10:51 AM on May 2, 2001


But what about those cowboys?
posted by andrew cooke at 11:01 AM on May 2, 2001


I wonder how many of the condemned who found grace in Christ are "death-bed converts"?
posted by starvingartist at 11:05 AM on May 2, 2001


amazing that they all retain their faith -- but i guess jesus waiting for them w/ open arms is all they have to look forward to.
posted by hollydeutsch at 11:32 AM on May 2, 2001


Also truly weird: at one point, plugging "tingly" into Google and clicking "I'm feeling lucky." landed one on the statistics page of that site.
posted by brantstrand at 11:34 AM on May 2, 2001


Not one to shirk from a truely tangential observation, has anyone else gotten the strange feeling that this is almost like an acceptance speech for an Oscar?

"I'd like to thank W & X, Love you, Y & Z, Thanks God.."
posted by Perigee at 11:58 AM on May 2, 2001


this is the only thing on the web that has truly stirred my emotions.

i can't put a finger on how to label the feeling, but it is a sense of awe and wonder.

it's the finality of it, i think. these men (i haven't come across any women yet) are saying what they know will be their last expression. the last time they will ever share with another human being. they are approaching that final blackout that no one can describe.

i agree that most of the declarations of faith are probably death-bed conversions, so to speak, but i'm an agnostic, so i see them as a window into either their fear, or their acceptance.

i haven't read many of them yet, but i have yet to come across a statement of regret. apology, yes, but no self-pitying statements of "i wish i had never done that thing so i wouldn't have to die."

interesting.
posted by o2b at 12:13 PM on May 2, 2001


I had some respect for this one. The funny thing was, the whole thing put me in the mood to compose my own last words.

There was another one, where it was noted that the subject mouthed the words "Hi Mom" to his mother, and it seemed so gentle and inappropriate that it caused me some small pain. I cannot figure why the mother would witness, without making allusions to "Of Mice and Men".
posted by thirteen at 12:18 PM on May 2, 2001


Famillies of the convict and the victim are both routinely on hand to witness executions. I think it worse for the convict to say something so flip -- given the circumstances -- than for the mother to be there, personally.
posted by Dreama at 12:21 PM on May 2, 2001


Equal Justice USA reports the following (via the Boston Globe) executed prisoners in Texas were probably innocent:

Odell Barnes, Robert N. Drew, Gary Graham, Richard W. Jones and Frank B. McFarland of Texas;

This is my problem with putting criminals(sic) to death.
posted by culberjo at 4:49 PM on May 2, 2001


Gary Graham talks pretty good for a guy people said was to dim to understand his actions. As I recall he may not have been guilty of this particular crime, he had done enough to cause me no trouble at the thought of his passing. I don't want innocent people put down, but he was not exactly innocent. If the other guys on the list were as innocent as him we aren't doing all that bad.

No one need call me cruel, If you disagree with me, I already know how you feel.
posted by thirteen at 5:13 PM on May 2, 2001


Yes, Dreama, it is pretty disgusting that a person about to die would acknowledge his own mother....
And good stuff, thirteen. Never heard anyone actually use the argument that it is ok to wrongfully execute someone as long as they've done OTHER stuff that you think makes them deserve death. Who needs a fair judicial system when we have raw, unchecked emotionality.
posted by Doug at 5:50 PM on May 2, 2001


Doug: Focus on this line I don't want innocent people put down. I never said it was alright to kill innocent people. Gary Graham may not have committed this crime, but he certainly did derserve to die. This may not have been justice, but I cannot mourn him in the least. I have thought of Gary Graham many times since he died, and I don't think we are less for his absence.

Earlier I meant to say "would WANT to witness" in regard to the mother.
posted by thirteen at 6:37 PM on May 2, 2001


Thirteen, I understand what you're saying about Gary Graham....but why can't you connect the fact that you should feel that we've lost a LOT as a society by convicting and killing the wrong person? If I'm wrongfully arrested and jailed for robbing a liquor store does it absolve the legal system if I happen to have actually robbed a 7-11 2 days prior? Of course not. The justice system has failed.
And the system that has failed Gary Graham has failed other people, and will fail again. All so that bloodthirsty people can sit at home and feel all warm inside that justice has been served.
posted by Doug at 6:49 PM on May 2, 2001


I don't want to work it over too much, but this (particular) example ends with them killing the wrong man, as opposed to an innocent man. I am sure I can muster up your level of outrage for the innocent. I don't feel particularly bloodthirsty, I don't feel much of anything when these people leave. I think some of our disconnect is because of our different expectations of society. Perhaps some of the things you think are being lost, are things I would never expect to find. I think I get your point, I am disturbed that there is a guilty man out there if Graham really was innocent.
posted by thirteen at 9:35 PM on May 2, 2001


This has to be one of the most unique, mind-numbing, not to mention morbid sites I have ever seen. Sort of reminds me of the 'Faces of Death' videos. I haven't read the whole thing yet, but I'm surprised that no one -- yet -- has completely lost it and lashed out at the justice system, victim's family, world, etc. Most have been so calm, pious and dignified. They'd have to take me kicking and screaming. But this site does give you perspective, on life that is. I'll bet some of the dying were innocent. This is about as close to 'Bread and Circuses' that we'll see in this (or any other) country.
posted by Rastafari at 9:46 PM on May 2, 2001


This has to be one of the most unique, mind-numbing, not to mention morbid sites I have ever seen. Sort of reminds me of the 'Faces of Death' videos. I haven't read the whole thing yet, but I'm surprised that no one -- yet -- has completely lost it and lashed out at the justice system, victim's family, world, etc. Most have been so calm, pious and dignified. They'd have to take me kicking and screaming. But this site does give you perspective, on life that is. I'll bet some of the dying were innocent. This is about as close to 'Bread and Circuses' that we'll see in this (or any other) country.
posted by Rastafari at 9:48 PM on May 2, 2001


Sorry for the double post. My mistake.
posted by Rastafari at 9:48 PM on May 2, 2001


They'd have to take me kicking and screaming.

Using up all your appeals takes years. These people have time to become resigned to their fate.
posted by kindall at 12:45 AM on May 3, 2001


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