A friend linked me to the online archive of the ‘Offender Information’ and recorded statements of those executed by the State of Texas since around 1982. It’s fascinating, in a really horrific and heart-rending way.
I should say that I am opposed to the death penalty, though I haven’t overly examined the issue beyond considering that state-sanctified revenge killing doesn’t seem ethically supportable. However, leaving that aside this archive is really amazing material. A quick read through some of the statements starts to bring up repetitive themes – god, forgiveness, love, family, support and perseverance – as well as underlining the over-representation of people of Black and Hispanic race (using the US terms).
I can’t help but think that this would be a mine of data for an anthropologist to examine, particularly one handy with statistical methods. Assuming other states hold similar records, or that older records were present in hard copy format for examination, I wonder what information would be thrown out? How many of these people converted to a religion in prison? How many proclaimed their innocent until the end? What kind of people apologise to the families of their victims or to their own families? How does that change over time, over age, race, location?
I wonder if it’s already been done, or is it too much of a difficult subject?