Here’s one for the creepy voyeur in all of us – the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has just released records from its archives detailing the last words of 441 executed prisoners dating from 1982 to just last week. You can visit the Department’s website and view the list of offenders and their details – Age, race, offense, gender, hair colour, weight – you can even look at their picture.
This is really conflicting – capital punishment is an idea that’s quite foreign to most young Australians (Australia’s last execution was in 1967) – and whilst I find the idea of capital punishment quite repulsive, the list is captivating as you’re provided with the fine details of a real persons final moment.
Last statements ranged from unapologetic to repentant, philosophic to just plain silly. Here’s a selection:
Yes, ain’t no way fo’ fo’, I love all y’all.
Nothing I can say can change the past.
My heart goes is going ba bump ba bump ba bump.
Man, there is a lot of people there.
I have come here today to die, not make speeches.
I said I was going to tell a joke. Death has set me free. That’s the biggest joke.
Tell everyone I got full on chicken and pork chops.
Death row is full of isolated hearts and suppressed minds.
Couple this with photographer James Reynolds series ‘Last Suppers’ which documents the last meals of death row prisoners and it’s sure to make a consuming day of prisoner internet stalking. The food choices are just as strange as the last statements – sure fried chicken, donuts and ice cream make a lot of sense to me but an onion and some chewing gum!? An olive!? Raw eggs and a hamburger bun!?
In the end I guess it’s a real persons story that enthrals us just as much as anything a great writer can come up with. What would your last words or last meal be?