28 January 2012

Dear Danny Hembree: A Letter to Death Row

[Ed. Note: Danny Hembree is a prisoner on death row in North Carolina. In the fall of 2011, he was convicted a particularly brutal murder of a 17 year old girl.

Recently, he wrote a taunting letter to his local newspaper, the Gaston Gazette. He wrote about his good life on death row where he is a “man of leisure,” and how he watches color TV in the air-conditioning, takes a lot of naps, receives three balanced meals every day and has free health care. Danny made fun of the citizens for having spent $500,000 to put him on death row and closed with “Kill me if you can, suckers! Ha! Ha! Ha!”

I wanted to write a letter of encouragement to my buddy Danny.]

Dear Danny –

All of the guys got a real kick out of your letter to the Gazette last week. You always did have style, and you really pulled their tails this time! You hurt that family, and you have damn near everybody else foaming at the mouth. That one legislator who wants to bring back public hanging is a real loon. Way to go, buddy!

Honestly, we never did think you were going to amount to much. I know it bothered you when we called you a dopehead, but you’ve really showed them what you have. By the way, I’m sorry about the time I told you that there was a reason that they call it “dope.”

You’ve got it made, pal! You’re a man of leisure now. You can take all the naps you want, or sit back and watch color TV in air-conditioned comfort. (No HBO? Darn.) And just think – they put that all together for you in that neat little 10 x 12 cell on death row. I bet cleaning up is easy, it’s so small. Doesn’t all that steel and concrete make it even easier to keep clean?

No kidding, you get three well-balanced meals brought to you?! We are just green with envy, Danny. Out here in the world, we have to figure out what we want to eat and then go buy or maybe go to a restaurant and order it. You? They just bring it to you. What a life! On a hot summer day, I bet they bring you a nice cold brewski or two. Oh, right – it’s prison. Sorry.

That free medical care thing is really far out. I went to the doctor last week, and I had to drive myself there. Then I had to pay for it. You need a doctor, they take you! Okay, maybe you have to ask a prison guard, and I bet being handcuffed and shackled to go to the doctor is really inconvenient, but it’s still free. In fact, I heard that they don’t even let you out of your little room unless you’re handcuffed and shackled. At least you don’t have to go out very often. Your 30 minutes of recreation in a cinderblock room with a basketball and that one shower a week probably means the handcuff/shackle thing isn’t too big a deal.

To think about all the problems I have that you don’t. Social Security? What do you care? You’re not going to live long enough to retire. The interest rate on my car loan is killing me. You don’t even have to own a car.

We heard two guys talking about you down at the pub a couple of days ago. You know, I don’t think those guys minded the $500,000 of taxes spent on your trial. One of them said it was “money well spent,” and the other one hoisted his mug of the golden brew and added a “fuckin' A, bubba!”

I got to tell you, we all thought you were a real moron when you confessed, and when we heard the details we thought you were a warped & vicious puppy. You sly dog – you had this whole “man of leisure” thing planned all along!

Anyway, I have to close now - I have a hot date and ... oh, sorry, forgot. That’s the breaks, man.

Your buddy,
Roger Curry

[Further note: I've already gotten feedback to the effect that I'm a sarcastic SOB for writing this. (1) I really don't care. (2) I've never billed myself as Mahatma Gandhi. More Mahatma Kane Jeeves.]

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