Friday, 28 April 2017

One reason why I write to a death row prisoner

Texas death row inmates spend an average of more than 14 years awaiting execution in solitary confinement, posited by UT-Austin researchers as akin to torture, an assessment shared by several human rights organizations.
The study comes amid a backdrop of prolific capital punishment in Texas, a state that executes more prisoners than any other state - by far. This year alone, 4 people have been put to death through the use of the drug Pentobarbital for various crimes: Christopher Wilkins, 48, executed Jan. 11; Terry Darnell Edwards, 43, executed Jan. 26; Rolando Ruiz, 44, put to death on March 7; and James Bigby, 61, executed March 14 (Source: Death Penalty Information Center).

The 4 prisoners put to death this year all had been awaiting execution for years, and in once case decades. Wilkins had the shortest wait at 8 years, while Bigby sat on death row for 25 years, according to data collected by the Death Penalty Information Center.

The prisoner with the longest time on death row is Raymond Riles, who has been sitting on death row for more than 41 years. Due to mental illness, he was previously considered ineligible to be executed, but prison officials said he could become eligible given continual testing of his mental state. In 1985, Riles attempted suicide by setting his prison cell on fire.

I have nothing to add to this damming report, except to say, again, that the prisoners in Texas are kept in solitary confinement ALL the time. "My" prisoner is currently in despair.

13 comments:

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Yvonne. Yes, it is.

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  2. It is inhuman to treat people like this. If they are guilty of whatever they are accused of, just get on with it... though I don't believe a death sentence is the answer.

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    1. Frances, their human rights record is shocking. They even imprison some children for life. But they are our "special friends"....

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  3. That's very sad - and quite shocking, Frances. I hadn't realised they were kept in solitary confinement. You are a life-line, I'm sure, to the man you write to.

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    1. Interestingly, the organisation which pairs up writers with prisoners is calle Lifelines. They are always looking for new members.....? It's really interesting and very rewarding. I've been writing to this prisoner for over five years, and another before that.

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  4. Nations intervene in the most appalling atrocities, yet this human torture has been mostly hidden away. Why?

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    1. Maggie, haven't you heard of the "special relationship"! It has a lot to answer for. Heaven forbid that we should criticise our friends across the pond.

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  5. If the authorities aren't certain enough of the convictions to carry out the sentence, then there's no justification for keeping people in such awful conditions.

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    1. (Which isn't to say I'm convinced it's justified even when they are certain.)

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  6. Thanks, Patsy. At least when we had the death penalty here, prisoners were despatched within a couple of weeks. The U.S. appeals system goes on for decades.

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  7. Just curious, do you know what his offence was and has he ever written you about it or his remorse if he has any.

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    1. Jill, I know what he's supposed to have done, but he says he's never killed anyone. Neither of us mentions it, not least because all our letter are read by officials. Many of those on death row are later found to be (or to have been) innocent.

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