Thursday, March 27, 2014

My life, my life.


After two and a half years and more than 500 posts, Lost Words in the Chamber has reached the end of the Texas archives of executed offenders. Yesterday's post on Humberto Leal brought us completely up to date, as the convict that followed Leal into the execution chamber, Mark Stroman, was the first Lost Words entry to be chronicled in real time, way back in July of 2011.

It has been a chronicle of the monstrous and of the penitent; of men proclaiming to the end their innocence despite all evidence, and of those whose proclamations still linger, haunting. There were those whose crimes were borne of passion, of reckless stupidity, of simple barbarism, and strapped to the table were the born-again, or the defiant, or the simpleminded, or the coldly cunning. All of them, though, had what few of us ever do- the sure, grim knowledge of their appointed hour and the opportunity to make one, final transmission before signing off forever. Lost Words, more than anything else, has been a chronicle of the fear and hope with which humans face the dark truth of their own mortality.

The blog started with Texas, in part, because Texas is the perennial execution leader in the United States, but I chose Texas principally because of the depth and quality of its death row archives. When I first discovered them, thanks to the urging of Associated Press reporter Mike Graczyk, I was immediately awed by the piety, the viciousness, the terror, and, yes, sometimes even the humor of these final statements. I read them for days.

Texas, however, is unique. The record keeping of other states doesn't seem to be nearly so complete, nor publicly available, as that of the Friendship State. With this in mind, Lost Words will be moving into a research phase, as we figure out a way to move forward with materials from other states. In the meantime, the blog will continue to publish the last words of executed offenders in Texas as they happen (tonight, in fact, Texas has scheduled the execution of Anthony Doyle). So, though they'll be coming infrequently for the time being, keep your eyes on the blog for future updates.

Thanks for reading,

Daniel De Simone

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