Read this over at the ACLU blog and thought the abolitionist community would be interested in this entry:
The New Yorker, a magazine well-known for publishing fiction, recently ran a story about a subject that is all too real. State-sponsored killing. The article is about Vernell Crittendon, the recently retired spokesperson for San Quentin State Prison in California. According to his job description, Crittendon was responsible for dealing with the condemned person before his execution and informing the press about the killing. As a matter of fact, he was responsible for just about everything related to California capital punishment process.
In some ways, Crittendon's story parallels that of a person convicted of a capital crime. The article reports that as a prison guard, he had done some terrible things. As a young corrections officer, he was responsible for beating black inmates under orders from white supervisors.
The most important trait shared by people on death row and Crittendon is the recognition that this final punishment does not need to continue. Even though he attempted to be detached from the execution process, Crittendon, who witnessed 13 executions, saw the senseless, pointless suffering. When Manny Babbitt, a Vietnam veteran who saved a life of a fellow soldier, was put to death, Crittendon thought, "Poor Manny." (Manny Babbitt's story can be seen on Freedom Files: Freedom to Live on ACLU.tv). He also recognized some of the factors that explain w...