Where the Death Penalty Still Lives. In the U.S., 20 states and the District of Columbia have abolished capital punishment and four others have imposed a moratorium on executions. Of the 26 states that remain, only 14 handed down death sentences last year for a total of 50 across the country — less than half the number six years before. California, which issued more than one-quarter of last year’s death sentences, hasn’t actually executed anyone since 2006. A new geography of capital punishment is taking shape, with just two percent of the nation’s counties now accounting for a majority of the people sitting on death row. [more inside]
Inside Death Row: [New York Times] Between 2014 and 2015, the editorial cartoonist Patrick Chappatte and his wife, the journalist Anne-Frédérique Widmann, invited death-row inmates in the United States to draw their personal experiences in prison. Last year, the couple curated the drawings in an art and documentation exhibition in Los Angeles called “Windows on Death Row.” The prisoners’ stories became the basis of this five-part graphic journalism series. [more inside]
"From a certain angle, the premise seems almost cruel: invite prisoners on death row to design their own memorials — ways for them to be remembered after they’ve been executed. This means asking them to confront not just their own mortality, but the state’s hand in ensuring it; to imagine not only the reality of their deaths, but a time beyond it. Yet, if Life After Death and Elsewhere suggests anything, it’s that this process may offer a release. These men are already thinking about death, after all — two paintings that feature the grim reaper assure us of that. Now at least they have somewhere to channel their thoughts."
Artist Amy Elkinsbegan corresponding in 2009 with prisoners on death row in California. Of the seven men with whom Elkins made contact in June 2009, she remains in touch with only one, Freddy, who has been held in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay since 1995, when he was 16 years of age. Freddy has been incarcerated since he was 13. Parting Words is "a visual archive of the 500+ prisoners to date executed in the state of Texas."
On Wednesday, William Van Poyck was executed by the state of Florida for murdering a prison guard during a botched 1987 attempt to free an imprisoned friend. Poyck spent 25 years in solitary confinement on death row, during which time he wrote to his sister about his life in prison. Since 2005 she has published those letters to a blog called Death Row Diary. 'Poyck used to write about everything from the novels and history books he was reading and shows he watched on PBS to the state of the world and his own philosophy of life – punctuated by news of the deaths of those around him, from illness, suicide, and execution.' Excerpts. His final letter.
Here are some ideas for Thanksgiving dinner, though not a circumstance I'd like to participate in. If ever there was a time to say Grace before dining, this certainly is one of those times. Pumpkin pie anyone?
Dead Man Eating is a weblog listing last meals of American prisoners put to death. Often humanizing the prisoners without belittling their crimes, it's a macabre, fascinating read no matter which side of the death penalty debate you're on.
Pregnant women on death row. I don't understand why this is an issue. I'm not commenting on capital punishment here, a problem in itself, but what's the rush? Why not just wait until the child is born?
What will George do? Gary Graham is on death row and would be president Bush has a decision to make. Only one of six witnesses has identified Graham as the killer and four witnesses say Graham was elsewhere when the crime took place. I'm not saying the death penalty is wrong, but isn't it the greatest injustice of all to be executed for a crime you didn't commit.
Final meal requests. Is the Texas Department of Criminal Justice a bit sadistic or what?