the death penalty and fried chicken.

I confuse myself.

I am a grown-up. I watch the news. I know that people commit horrible crimes.  Crimes that make my heart shrink away in horror.

“How on earth could anyone do that?”

“Honey, are you hearing this? It’s horrible.  I can’t believe it!”


These are often the questions falling out of my mouth as I watch our polished newscasters lay out the facts of the latest horrific event.

I  get mad. I grieve. I want justice for the victims. I should be a slam dunk vote for the death penalty.

That would make sense.

Except I’m not.

Because I’m not, and because I don’t even understand it myself,  I recently drove five hours to hear a man speak about it.  He was a warden on death row for decades. He presided over many, many deaths.  He got paid for it.  I could not imagine what he would stand up in front of a room and say?  I thought I might hear regret or a well-honed defense.  I thought he might say something that would sway me one way or the other.  I had questions and I wanted answers.

I got none.

Instead, I can tell you that this man raised his children in the shadows of a prison. I can tell you that death row inmates in my state don’t get a last meal anymore.  But, when they did, it evolved from fried chicken and mashed potatoes twenty years ago to cheeseburgers and fries more recently.  I can tell you that of the eighty odd men and women he saw die only three put up any kind of struggle.  I can tell you that this retired warden said he prayed for his charges. I can tell you that sometimes the prisoners cracked jokes in the last moments and that almost always there were witnesses for both sides.  The victim and the perpetrator.

I came home and posted on my Facebook page that I was more confused than ever.  And, I am.  However, I am sure of one thing.  Whatever it is that made us establish a death penalty is the same thing that makes us want to know it is done humanely.

I rage against the crimes I see on the evening news.  Punish evil.

I’m disheartened that inmates no longer get a last meal before we execute them. A juicy cheeseburger.  Really? That’s a bad thing?  What does that say about us on the other side of the needle?

The whole subject is conflicting for me.  In the end, all I can say is I believe in evil and I believe equally in life.

Maybe, I am not unlike the warden.

Maybe, I could give a man a piece of candy before I had to carry out his death sentence because that little act would save both our humanity.

Maybe, if I ever join a picket line, it will be to bring back a last meal to prisoners I believe deserve to die for taking someone else’s life.

I’m a mixed up girl.





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