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Final Words (Hardback)

P&S History > Social Science & Culture > Politics > Political Sciences & Current Affairs

Imprint: University Press of Kentucky
Pages: 1184
Illustrations: 578 b&w illustrations
ISBN: 9780813197838
Published: 31st March 2024
Casemate UK Academic



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In 1976 the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the legality of capital punishment in their ruling on Gregg v. Georgia. In the 46 years since the decision was handed down, 1,551 convicted prisoners have been executed. The United States is the only Western nation - and one of four advanced democracies - that regularly applies the death penalty. While the death penalty is legal in 27 states, only 21 have the means to carry out death sentences. Of those states, Texas has executed the most prisoners in recent history, condemning 578 people to death since the 1976 ruling, beginning with the death of Charlie Brooks in 1982. Texas retains the third-largest death row population behind California and Florida. In the summer of 2020, the Trump administration broke a nearly 17-year stay during which the federal government did not sanction any executions when it put 13 inmates to death over six months. Seventeen of the 45 current federal death row inmates, the highest proportion of any state, are currently incarcerated in Texas.  

Final Words is a project that addresses the death penalty in the United States as a violation of human rights. Consisting of a collection of government documents relating to the 578 executed Texas inmates, each set of pages reveals a portrait of a life bookended by violence in which final moments are often spent expressing words of love for family and friends, sorrow for victims, and gratitude for life lived. The compilation stands as a stark indictment of a system built by institutions rampant with racism, classism, and sexism. Each entry, each story, each utterance will challenge readers to answer the question: is there room for humanity in the American justice complex?

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