Thursday, December 20, 2007

"Are you all happy?"

Not to bring the holiday mood down, but this is too fascinating to keep to myself. If you click on this link, you can see a list of the 405 people who have been executed in Texas since 1982. More staggeringly, you can read each of their last statements.

Many of them start with "Yes, sir," or "Yes, I do," presumably because they've been asked if they have any final words. They range from the brief and chilling ("I deserve this. Tell everyone I said goodbye.") to longer indictments of the system or the justice of a particular decision. Some of them have the Texas attitude you might expect people to have right until the end:
Yes sir, Warden. Okay I've been hanging around this popsicle stand way too long. Before I leave, I want to tell you all. When I die, bury me deep, lay two speakers at my feet, put some headphones on my head and rock and roll me when I'm dead. I'll see you in Heaven someday. That's all Warden.
But mostly, of course, they're heartbreaking:
Yes sir. I would like to say to my family, I am alright. (Spanish) Where are you Leo; are you there Leo? (Spanish) Don't lie man. Be happy. Are you happy? Are you all happy? (Spanish)
The statements are given with onlookers present, which some inmates didn't seem to expect. This leads to at least one final-final word that seems apt for a Lone Stater:
Uh, I don't know, um, I don't know what to say. I don't know. (pauses) I didn't know anybody was there. Howdy.

(This is -- unintentionally -- the second straight of my posts found through Very Short List. I highly suggest signing up for the service. They e-mail you one suggestion every day -- a book, a CD, a web site, a work of art -- for free, which is a very good price.)


Anonymous JPW said...

These statements are utterly heartbreaking....
I only got through a dozen or so and couldn't continue, though the last one I read was rather humorous. The inmate asks: "where's my stunt double when you need one?"

2:16 PM  

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