Their Dying Words: Analyzing the Last Statements of Executed Offenders

Neal Slone, Bloomsburg University
Leo G. Barrile, Bloomsburg University
Pamela Donovan, Bloomsburg University
Nicole Cotterman, Bloomsburg University
Angela Smith, Bloomsburg University

Our paper draws on several data sources including Texas Department of Criminal Justice records and local newspaper reports to analyze the last statements of offenders executed in the state of Texas from 1982 to the present. We code last statements for expressions of remorse, shame, forgiveness, contempt, situational constraint and innocence and relate the content of these statements to offender, offense and victim characteristics. Our analysis of approximately 200 cases indicates that the dying words of executed offenders are patterned, and that these patterns are related to factors including the race of the offender and his prior relationship to the victim.

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Updated 05/20/2006