Some images never leave a person’s mind; such images can remain forever in one’s psyche because they are beautiful and others remain because they are horrific. One terrible image that will never leave my mind is a snapshot of a guy’s mother collapsing on the day he was executed. There’s an interview with the members of the Texas execution die-down team that can be heard online. I’ve read a transcript of it and one of the executioners says that there is nothing in the world like hearing a mother cry when her son is executed.
For too many times I’ve been out at visitation on execution days and seen mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, and other family members dealing with the trauma of knowing that their loved one is set to die in a few hours. Some attempt to smile and hope for the best, others are rendered completely numb and speechless with shock and many just cry and cry. I can share many of these memories, recalling some more vividly than others but the one in which the guy’s mom collapsed is etched in my mind with extremely vivid detail.
I remember exactly what she was wearing that day. I even remember what type of glasses she had on and which officer helped her stand back up. I was right across from the area where people who are visiting guys on their execution day leave, sitting down in a visitation cage waiting for the COs to come and take me back to my cell. I saw the guy’s mom walking by crying, crying so very deeply it should really be described as wailing. Another visitor who was with her had her arm around her as she was wailing and shaking almost to the point of convulsions.
The visitation CO was walking by them. Wailing and crying in the most terribly sad manner imaginable — and suddenly she collapsed. Her knees buckled and she fell as her companion quickly wrapped her arms around her. The CO, who could be described as cordial but stern, reached out for the mother as well and helped her stand up. Tears, deep tears of terror, fear, love coursed down the mom’s cheeks as she shook violently and was halfway carried out of the visitation area.
That day I conducted a sit in and made the SWAT team carry me back to my cell while giving an impassioned protest speech about how the Death Penalty creates more victims, it makes more people suffer. I made sure that the image of the mother completely breaking down that day would be forever etched in the memory of all staff members on duty. After direct actions there are always the Rush Limbaugh type of officers who just can’t resist giving commentary about how protest doesn’t work (even though they know it does) and how we should just obey the rules (even though they know their precious rules are corrupt). That day, however, none gave commentary and an unusual silence rested over the Death Row building — the image of the horribly distraught mother remained heavily on everyone’s mind.
Do you know what image is haunting me right now? The possible future image of Steven’s mom having to see her son for the last time. I almost wish I didn’t understand neuropsychology so well because I keep thinking of the details of the psychosomatic responses she’ll experience if that terrible day arrives. Amygdala activated, flight or fight symptoms…horrible, just horrible! Steve has other family members who love him also. They don’t deserve to suffer if Steven is unjustly executed. Go to Steven’s website and Facebook now and get involved [https://www.facebook.com/SaveStevenWoods]. And remember, inaction in the face of injustice is direct consent.
One Love, One Struggle: