Real dead men walking

I’m not ready to go, but I have no choice… If there’s anything I have left to say, it would be that I wish I had a Shakespearean vocabulary…
—Raymond Kinnamon, age 53, murder during the commission of an armed robbery

The most amazing Web site we’ve seen lately is the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s “Executed Offenders” page — a stark, staggering repository of “last statements” of the 376 convicts who have been executed (as recently as last Tuesday) in Texas since 1982, when capital punishment resumed there.

In their final moments, some ramble, some don’t: “You all brought me here to be executed, not to make a speech. That’s it.”

Some are bitter: “I just want everyone to know that the prosecutor and Bill Scott are sorry sons of bitches.”

Many end on some variation of “Praise Jesus — I’m ready, Warden,” with Allah substituting for Christ in a surprisingly large fraction.

But collectively they’re riveting, pitiable, maddening, pathetic, moving, and, yes, Shakespearean in their scope.

“>READ the “last statements” of Texas death row inmates, 1982-present

(Hat tip to British newspaper The Guardian, which has a certain continuing fascination with the death penalty in the U.S. and featured the website in a story yesterday. The image above shows Polunsky Unit, in Livingston, Texas, where male death row inmates are housed.)

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