The following letter arrived on my desk shortly after the article I wrote describing having witnessed my friend's execution appeared in The Nation magazine. I offer it as a typical example of the kinds of responses those of us fighting against the death penalty often receive.
I read a reprint of your piece originally printed in The Nation about the execution of Robert Alton Harris, and I had to write to tell you what a joy it was to once again read good old fashioned liberal claptrap. I didn't think stuff like this existed any more. Thanks a lot! You really took me back to the sixties. Robert Alton Harris attracted so much publicity because of the brutal and callous nature of his crimes and it was rewarding to see him get what he deserved. As for you, your whining little tale of woe had me gagging. So you had to wait in an uncomfortable little room and drink bad coffee for eight hours. So what! Poor baby. You didn't have to be there and besides the state was trying it's (sic) best to finish him off as soon as possible. If Harris' lawyers hadn't kept getting him stays, you would have been outa there much earlier. If you should blame anybody it should be Harris. If he hadn't killed two people, you wouldn't have had to be there to experience this "discomfort". (sic) And they had the audacity to actually search Randy Harris and he returned "shaken and humiliated". (sic) He should be searched. If he is Robert Alton's brother he is more than likely a criminal too, and they're just supposed to let him waltz into the pen like he's the Governor of California. Anyway, you have to be a human being to be humiliated. How humiliated was Randy when his brother murdered two children. You were brave though, forcing back tears and all that. I'm proud of you Mike. Did you shed a tear for Bobby's victims? I'll bet not. How come you didn't mention the crimes Harris committed? Afraid it would me (sic) him less sympathetic?
How petty of you to harp on the fact that the victims' families had better accomodations (sic) that (sic) you. Got to play video games and eat better food. They deserve better treatment than you because they have been dumped on by the system for over a decade. And how awful of them to want to see justice served to some worthless hillbilly piece of shit who intruded on their lives and took something from them that can never be returned. Of course, if a member of your family was murdered, you would be just filled with love and understanding for the guy who did it cause you're better than all of us barbarians. If Harris' death sentence had been overturned and he had been sentenced to life in prison, his lawyers would have been back to work in a week trying to get him out, and I'm sure you would argue eloquently for his release. So, society is supposed to save Robert Alton Harris' miserable life just because you "love" him. What's with you Mike, are you like these disturbed women like Mrs. Bundy who get hung up on convicted killers and visit them on death row and marry them? I've got a news flash for you Mike. Criminals aren't heroic, they aren't interesting or exotic. They're simply grade "A" losers who unfortunately ruin innocent people's lives along with their own. If someone chooses to not follow the rules of society, then they shouldn't be entitled to the benefits of that society either.
I agree with you that there shouldn't be a death penalty in the United
States, but unfortunately there is one and it is invoked every day. Harris pronounced a death sentence on two teenagers. I also agree with the old standard line that the death penalty probably doesn't deter killers. Putting people in jail doesn't stop them from robbing gas stations either, so are we supposed to stop locking up criminals cause it doesn't do any good? Well, I could go on, but I've already wasted too much time on the likes of you. I generally don't mail letters without a return address but I don't like having unbalanced people know where I live. Get a life, Mike, Harris don't have one. Heh heh.