Excerpt from Letter, May 20, 1999
"This is the
part that's always so hard for me. So often it seems, someone as Manny
has his past which was a lifetime ago, but during the years of appeals
and prison that person who once existed in him has faded away until he
can't even remember. Some guys were screwed up by Viet Nam or drugs or
some other darkened influence, but since have authentically transformed
into healthy and kind individuals. And that is what often makes it so hard
for me to understand this thing we call the death penalty. I see and live
apart from the need for retribution felt by the victims and state, and
rather, abide within the lives of those who have grown so very repentant.
Repentance causes change, and in time, that change transforms one into
this rather angelic type of person. Manny was one of those people.
"I have always kept a
log of those men I've known here the last nineteen years, including all
who were executed or died from natural causes during that time. In my description
of nearly every execution the depiction of the men being surgically removed
from life are commonly similar. Like Manny, it says they were gentle, kind,
outgoing, and caring individuals. There are specific qualities for each,
but all which abide in the genre of 'good attributes'. The descriptions
were not written from bias, but rather were factually accurate in describing
the man. I didn't even realize the similarity in what I had written about
each until a few weeks ago when I reread nearly two decades of journaling."
- William C. Payton