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“To Suffer the Death Penalty”: A Journalist Reflects on Witnessing a Hanging

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Flynn’s Harp: Capital punishment, hanging reflections (7-28-10)

Excerpt: “… Only men have been executed in Washington and of the 14 who have gone to their deaths since 1949, 13 were Caucasian and one was Hispanic. Two of the last four men to suffer the death penalty chose hanging, the last being Charles Campbell in 1995.

… Spenser, the young man who contacted me for the interview for his project, told me he and a friend had decided to do a paper on the death penalty and had searched the Internet but found “mostly factual, neutral stuff. It was difficult to find sites that gave us opinions.”

I shared with him the details of the June evening of 1963 when two other young journalists and I were among the group of about 35 people on hand for Self’s hanging, by tradition just past midnight, “the first minute of the new day.”

Self, Warden Bobbie Rhay, a catholic priest who had become Self’s regular death-row visitor, and a couple of guards entered a door to the cement balcony against the back wall of the chamber, with the witnesses looking up from below. They walked to the center of the platform and stopped as Self stood above the steel door through which he would fall to his death when the door was sprung open….” (Link to full post.)

(Thank you to KCLL blog for the tip: Blog Reflects on Joseph Self’s Execution)

Previous OLR blog posts on the death penalty.

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