Recently, lawmakers of Salt Lake City, Utah proposed a bill that would reinstitute the firing squad as a solution to debates pertaining to the lethal injection cocktail.
The ongoing litigation stemming from the lethal injection protocol is obviously getting the best of some chosen political leaders. The facts exposing the misuse of capital punishment in this country are irrelevant when the blood lust for euthanizing a death row prisoner is at stake. Give the people what they want, right?
Well, as a republican representative of the people anxious for state sanctioned murder, Paul Ray argues that a team of trained marksmen is faster and more humane that the drawn-out deaths involved when lethal injections go awry (e.g. Oklahoma and Arizona). SMH. Ideas must be bulletproof because that is one that should have been shot down long before it transitioned into words leaving the mouth of a state representative.
It is this type of closed-mindedness that often leads to the popular perception of death row prisoners being no more than soulless bodies awaiting the “justice” that will release them from their own misery. This is why writing this particular article is somewhat equivalent to making the arsonist the fire chief.
You see my current placement on North Carolina’s death row qualifies me as one of those “soulless bodies” anticipating a “humane” expiration by the hands of the state. But I represent a demographic of death row prisoners maintaining famished souls – seeking nourishment through the platform of learning chess.
Just follow my lead:
On 3/16/15, chess master, Mr. Eugene Brown returned to domicile of North Carolina’s so called “worst of the worst.” Not only did he bring masterful chess maneuvers and inspiring stories about his recent teachings at Howard University, he was accompanied by Revrend Reggie Longcrier, author of “From Disgrace to Dignity.”
It’s a memoir about the life of a street hustler that refused to accept the cancellations created by anyone other than himself. The good reverend makes it crystal-clear that cancellations have no place in a spirit-filled existence.
“Changes override cancellations. You can’t let people tell you that there are cancellations in your life. Only changes will be made.” Somehow, I can see myself in these cool “old-heads.” Two ex-offenders who got it together; figured it out and now relate so well with those who currently combat the desolate rooted with incarceration.
The actions of these men are far from being gratuitous, while emblematic of their wisdom indoctrinating hope into the minds of future Lifers, as well as ex-offenders like themselves.
Mr. Eugene Brown speaks what I feel: “Brothers leave the prison and never give anything back.” He even refers to his interactions with us as his “journey.” It is rare for a volunteer to engage so closely with death row prisoners. Whenever he takes a seat across the board from one of our chess representatives, the silence of the room screams a harmonious pitch that proves to be therapeutic for the volunteers and the prisoners alike.
A stalemate, resignation or checkmate is secondary to the feast enabling our souls to swell with the aspirations of becoming something more than a ward unable to see past the revolving doors of recidivism. Every eye within that conference room collaborates in witnessing the history at hand.
“I want to talk to people that lived the life I lived.” Rev. Longcrier has an unmistaken affinity with death row prisoners. In his early years of “doing time” he was mentored by prisoners released from the “death house.” The reverend’s words are my interpretation of giving the people what they want. Someone’s great idea that remains bulletproof. Let the fire burn!
Keepin it 100,
Copyright © 2015 by Leroy Elwood Mann