Macabre but worth reading. The Virginia system is explained.
Very strange procedure, John. They enlist volunteer witnesses from the community to watch executions. Macabre doesn't seem to break the surface.
I've written about my experience at the death chamber in 2004 here before, so I won't rehash my issues. But it worked for me.
My favorite part, of course, was the story of witness Candy Couch. No, I am not making that name up, but were she in fiction, she would be the perfect girlfriend for Cortez Templeton. A dancer, perhaps, or a woman of leisure.
Your name, mam?
Couch. Candy Couch.
The burning question I was left with after reading this article was how do you retire, as did Candy, from the Sheriff's Department when you are only 36 years old.
I guess they start 'em young in Virginny. In Law Enforcement, I mean.
Here's a few gems from Candy and the article:
"Candy Couch, the candle shop owner, had seen other men put to death, but they had been flat on their backs, feet facing her, arms splayed on a gurney, waiting for the needle. She rarely saw their eyes before the life drained out of them. But this man, her fourth, stared her down as he walked to the electric chair.
"He's staring at me," Couch said. "Oh my God, he's looking right at me."
For nearly 100 years, broad public support for capital punishment has helped the Virginia Department of Corrections maintain a rotating list of about 20 to 30 volunteers, although only six are required to witness each execution. Some come only once. Others repeatedly return. One man, a paint store salesman from Emporia, has seen 15 men executed.
Witnesses aren't paid. No special skills are needed. The death house doesn't require much from volunteers beyond state residency, a basic criminal background check and an ability to sum up in three lines or less on a written application why they want to watch convicted killers die. Some say it's their civic duty to watch; that it's no different than sitting on a jury or voting. Others say they're just curious to see whether death equals justice.
Couch, 36, doesn't remember what reason she gave on her application. When she first signed up, she told friends she wanted to see whether watching someone be executed is anything like in the movies. A retired sheriff's deputy, she never knew any of the men she saw executed. But when she volunteered for her first death-by-lethal-injection three years ago, she vowed she would keep going back until she saw an electrocution.
Couch snorts when she reads about defense lawyers who claim lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment. She is not religious, but she believes in God and Old Testament eye-for-an-eye justice."
Really Scott, I didn't make that first paragraph up. Although it sounds like Jane wrote it, it really really was in the Washington Post. Really.
All of which reminds me of the early 1900's Texas case that now retired/former Brazos County District Judge/Fort Bend County District Judge Bradley Smith used to often quote, wherein a rural Texan (West Texan I believe, SB) was questioned during voir dire about whether he could render justice in a death penalty case (paraphrased):
Lawyer: Can you see that this defendant receives justice in this trial, sir?
Venireman: Yes, first we give him justice and then we give him some electricity.
I'm only a banjo player from Georgia, so "intelligent" is not an appropriately descriptive word for me. But, if I go back to your 2004 comments, would your real identity and reference to your musical talents be discovered? And/or, can I make any money by outing you to the grits for breakfast readership?
I don't try to conceal my identity because everyone already knows I'm a slack-jawed poor dresser whose lips move when I read.
I think, A.P., that there's not much money to be made in outing me to grits for breakfast, or the more cosmopolitan grits for a light brunch, since I am inescapably West Texan. Yes, GG, that means potential jurors in my Old Country impatiently encourage the progress of voir dire and trial with comments such as, "bring that guilty *#$@%! in here and let's give him a fair trial. Followed by a first-class hangin'." Okay. I added that last part. Actually, Brian Dennehy added it in Silverado.
AP, I'm not sure anyone would be interested if I was outed. I am far more interested, in this thread anyway, in discussing how the woman got the name Candy Couch and how she managed to snag retirement at such a tender age.
you're gay? does your wife know?
Ask AP, he's the one that wants to out me. Maybe I'm a closet banjo player...
not that there's anything wrong with that. banjo player.
I'd never want to harm GG's reputation so badly as to suggest that he was a banjo player. There aren't enough hours of sensitivity training available to convince the human race to accept into society the missing links known as banjo pickers.
I imagine it'll be years before people in the U.S. (let alone in Texas) are open-minded enough to accept those who openly admit to playing the banjo.
By contrast, the Brits have their own social organization (The British BMG Federation) which "exists to promote the performance (gasp!) and education of the banjo, mandolin (Helen, they've gone too far), and guitar (well, as long as it's Garth or Hank playin', that'll do)."
I'm unaware of any such group in the U.S. So for now, those who of you are musically orientied in that way will have to hope the progress made by your European brother and sister strummers will some day promote greater understanding and acceptance in this country.
In the mean time, I'll keep praying for you to seek help.
Thought for the day: What's the different between a U.S. Savings Bond and a banjo player? The bond eventually matures and earns money.
And yes, Andy, I am living proof of that last comment.
What is the difference between an extra large pizza and a banjo player?
A pizza can feed a family of four.
Ba dump bump.
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