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Inmates' Last Words

The Execution Tapes record not only the final moments in the lives of the condemned but also their last words. Some men proclaim their innocence until the end; some seek forgiveness from the families of their victims; others make no statement at all.

The inmate's final statement is taken in two parts: Two hours before the execution, a prison official records the inmate's final statement in the holding cell outside of the death chamber. Then, once in the death chamber, after the condemned has been strapped into the electric chair and just before the hood is placed over his head, the warden offers him the opportunity to add to his final statement -- an addendum limited to two minutes. The following are a sampling of these words.

[Photo: Jerome Bowden]
 

Jerome Bowden

Final Statement (RealAudio, 2:13 min.)
Addendum to Final Statement (RealAudio, 26 sec.)

Bowden -- with an IQ of 59 -- was found guilty of the burglary, armed robbery, aggravated assault, and murder of two women for whom he was doing yard work. He was electrocuted on June 24, 1986. The first audio clip is the final statement recorded in his death cell. The second audio clip is Bowden's addendum, recorded in the death chamber, immediately before his execution.

Public outrage at Bowden's execution prompted Georgia to pass a 1988 law forbidding the execution of a retarded person. And on June 20, 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that executing killers who are mentally retarded violates the Constitution's ban on "cruel and unusual" punishment (Atkins v. Virginia). For more information on Bowden, see the Human Rights Watch report Beyond Reason: The Death Penalty and Offenders with Mental Retardation.



[Photo: William Boyd Tucker, Jr.]
 

William Boyd Tucker, Jr.

Final Statement (RealAudio, 5:20 min.)

At over five minutes, Tucker's final statement is one of the longest on these tapes. He was convicted for the 1977 kidnapping and stabbing death of Kathleen Perry, a convenience store operator. He was electrocuted on May 29, 1987.



[Photo: Van Roosevelt Solomon]
 

Van Roosevelt Solomon

Final Statement (RealAudio, 15 sec.)

Van Roosevelt Solomon was convicted of the 1979 murder of Roger Dennis Tackett, a gas station manager, and was electrocuted on February 20, 1985.



[Photo: Richard Tucker, Jr.]
 

Richard Tucker, Jr.

Final Statement (RealAudio, 34 sec.)

Richard Tucker, Jr. was sentenced to death for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Edna Sandefur, a retired nurse. He was electrocuted on May 29, 1987.

Next Page | Complete audio of all execution tapes

 

READ
Intro
Ivon Ray Stanley
"Botched" Execution
Last Words
Complete Audio

MORE

Witness to an Execution, a documentary about the Texas death house

Death Row Diaries, a feature about the last two inmates executed in the U.S. before the year 2000

Georgia Supreme Court's ruling that found the use of the electric chair unconstitutional [PDF file, 314K]

The Last Public Execution, a book about the 1936 hanging of Rainey Bethea

History of "botched" executions from the Death Penalty Information Center

Breaking death penalty news from Court TV

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