Map of usage of lethal injection chair for the death penalty in the United States.
In our latest issue (Nov/Dec) you’ll find a couple fine features on the subject of the death penalty in America; The Texas Observer’s Robert Leleux takes a long and very hard look at the assembly line approach to executions in the Lone Star State, and The Sun interviews legendary capital punishment opponent Sister Helen Prejean, 17 years after the publication of her Pulitzer Prize-nominated Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States.
Whether your interest in executions (you can’t really sugarcoat that word) is fueled by moral outrage or purely voyeuristic curiosity, the internet offers all sorts of resources, history, and creepy diversions.
The Death Penalty Information Center provides everything from the latest news and data to a comprehensive execution database that will tell you, for instance, that of the 45 executions in the U.S. so far in 2010, 17 have been carried out by the state of Texas. The site also allows you to break down data in all sorts of revelatory ways. Want to know what percentage of those executed in any given year have been juveniles, white, or female? The information’s there.
At the Texas Department of Criminal Justice site you can read the rap sheets and final words (where a statement was offered) of the 464 inmates the state has put to death since 1982.
The Dead Man Eating Weblog hasn’t been updated in awhile, but it still offers a sad and oddly fascinating inventory of the last meals of a host of executed offenders. And the artist Kate MacDonald has done a series of stark paintings that capture the aftermath and essential melancholy of those lonely meals.
Finally, the diligent folks over at Executed Today offer a scholarly and obsessively-annotated timeline (updated pretty much every day) of executions throughout history.
Source: Utne Reader, The Texas Observer, The Sun, Executed Today, Dead Man Eating Weblog
Image by Lokal_Profil, licensed under Creative Commons.