And the winner of the great "who will be the 1,000th US prisoner executed since the death penalty was re-legalized in 1977?" is…
A convicted murderer in North Carolina has been put to death, making him the 1,000th person executed in the US since 1977.
The Department of Corrections in North Carolina said 57-year-old Kenneth Lee Boyd died Friday at 2:15 a.m. from lethal injection.
A judge sentenced Boyd to death for killing his estranged wife and father-in-law in 1988.
Something about death row makes inmates into unintentional comics. When faced with his numerical honor, Boyd said "hate to be remembered" as a number–better that he be remembered as a scumbag double-murderer!
Quick aside before a more-serious point: Was Gary Gilmore the first guy to be executed in the modern period? And all you Norman Mailer fans out there, answer me this: Why did it take him like 1,000 pages to explore Gilmore's psyche while The Adverts were able to do the definitive evocation of the guy in their 3-minute masterpiece, "Gary Gilmore's Eyes"?
I'm against the death penalty. I have no sympathy for murderers like Boyd, or born-again pickaxe queen Karla Faye Tucker. At the same time, I don't think there's any question that innocent people are on death row (or, more accurately, people have been given death sentences for crimes they didn't commit), that the penalty is meted out unevenly, and more.
But the reason I'm against the death penalty is because I think the proper police function of government is to protect citizens from harm, in the least violent way possible. That can and should be done through life imprisonment, not state-sanctioned killing.
Way back in the late '90s–when I was doing time in the Death Penalty capitol of the U.S., Huntsville, Texas–I did a bit about the death penalty for NPR. Audio is online here.