The killing venue
By Brandon Astor Jones
@outdent = "I am a product of your creation. I responded as programmed ... You seem to think that executing criminals is the answer, but an overhauling of our entire society is the real answer. No matter how sterilised and sanitised you make this execution, it is still murder ... You are as much guilty as I am and will be held accountable one day." — William Boyd Tucker, executed May 29, 1987.
@outdent = The Olympic Games will begin soon. People from around the world will converge on the city of Atlanta in 1996. Spectacle will be the order of the day throughout the region. Yet, just 80 km south of the city a quiet little death squad will be keeping at the ready Georgia's electric chair.
@outdent = Already there is a huge amount of money being made from the impending games. There will be many things for visitors to do at the various regional venues in the counties were specific events will be held. The games will be an economic windfall for Georgia.
@outdent = Presupposing the shame that an active, and large, death row would likely generate in the global community, someone in Atlanta's city government thought it would be wise to remove Butts County — where the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center (GDCC) is located near the hamlet of Jackson — from Atlanta's metropolitan area of neighbouring counties. It is as if that will somehow make the state of Georgia less responsible for the killings it conducts at the GDCC.
@outdent = A number of Atlanta's so-called "big shots" have been offered free tickets to various venues. Of course, that should not surprise us, nor should the fact that many of the poor residents of those neighbourhoods in which the events are to be held will not be in attendance for obvious reasons. Poor people are rarely given free tickets to anything, least of all tickets to popular Olympic events.
@outdent = On the other hand there is one event that almost anyone can afford. Surely that was recently proved by the late Nickolas Lee Ingram; he too was a poor man.
@outdent = For those who will be visiting Atlanta for the Olympics and who relish the idea of being close to state-sanctioned murder, the GDCC will allow them to stand at the prison gate and cheer (as have countless others) when the hearse goes by carrying the remains of the human being they will have just killed. They will be able to proudly proclaim that they were there when so-and-so was killed.
@outdent = A friend who lives in Floreat Park, Australia, recently sent me a copy of a letter that was published in a British Quaker publication called The Friend. I would like to share it with you and in so doing salute the couple whose courage, dignity and resolve against capital punishment inspired them to write it:
@outdent = "We write in the aftermath of Nick Ingram's execution in the USA. The British media gave unprecedented attention to the mechanics of death by electrocution. These details outrage not only those of us who oppose capital punishment but also many who do not.
@outdent = "How can the State take the moral high ground when it is prepared to incarcerate a man for 12 years while he contemplates the manner of death which the State will inflict? We have decided to boycott American products and services until the death penalty is repealed and all outstanding death penalties are commuted. We have written to President Clinton and the US Embassy in London informing them of this. Perhaps like-minded readers will wish to do the same.
Debby & Peter Wakeham 88 Cobden Street, Luton LU2 ONG.
[The writer is a prisoner on death row in the United States. He is happy to receive letters commenting on his columns. He can be written to at: Brandon Astor Jones, EF-122216, G2-51, GD&CC, PO Box 3877, Jackson, GA 30233, USA.]