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The Death Penalty

In May of 1960, I was place in the “Hole” for ten days, at that time they would feed you a bowl of spinach once a day. The “Hole” was in cell house three, which also housed death row. When the guard came to my cell, I refused the spinach. He told me that he bet I’d be eating it by the end of ten days. Directly on the tier above me was death row. One of the prisoners on death row (David F. Early) over-heard my conversation with the guard.

At meal time, David would share his meals with me; he had a string made from his mattress and would lower part of his meal down to me.

On Aug. 12th 1961, David was gassed in the gas chamber.

For those who would cry out, that the death penalty is a deterrent, I would say: we’ve had a few hundred years of this “deterrent” and it doesn’t seem to be working.

My opposition to the death penalty does not come from the kindness or compassion that David showed to me, but rather from the fact that I believed we as a society were more cruel to put a person in a small concrete room and then day after day tell them we were going to kill them.

It seemed to me then as it does now that our crime is far greater than theirs.

It was also a lesson for me about kindness and compassion; it’s possible to find even on death row.

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