By Alan Bean
This beautifully crafted story about an executioner turned death penalty abolitionist has the pacing of a crime novel. Jerry Givens has experienced every aspect of the criminal justice system, including time behind bars. If anyone has taken the full measure of the American gulag, he’s the guy. The bit where Givens is asked if he would have executed Jesus if the state gave him the death penalty literally took my breath away. Highly recommended.
Ex-Virginia executioner becomes opponent of death penalty
By Justin Juvenal
Jerry Givens executed 62 people.
His routine and conviction never wavered. He’d shave the person’s head, lay his hand on the bald pate and ask for God’s forgiveness for the condemned. Then, he would strap the person into Virginia’s electric chair.
Givens was the state’s chief executioner for 17 years — at a time when the commonwealth put more people to death than any state besides Texas.
“If you knew going out there that raping and killing someone had the consequence of the death penalty, then why are you going to do it?” Givens asked. “I considered it suicide.” (more…)