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Texas | A Dangerous Man. At 18, Billy Joe Wardlow took a man’s life. Nearly 30 years later, the state still wants his.

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Like any place humans gather, death row has a culture. Billy Wardlow says it's different in many ways from general population. One is in how new inmates are treated. "In [general population], the guys around you would try to find some way to exploit you," Wardlow said. "Death row, with a few exceptions, will often extend a hand of friendship to the 'new boot' so they can get on their feet ... Most of us get together and let each other know what we can send to the new guy."
One of the cherished myths of those who support the death penalty is that it is reserved for the “worst of the worst,” those beyond redemption.
Wardlow typically sends writing materials, food, clothes, and hygiene products. Recently, after receiving some of these items, a new inmate asked Wardlow what he owed him. "I told him to remember how guys helped him when he saw someone else new," Wardlow said. "Pay it forward, as the saying goes."
Sending gifts is one thin…

Indisputable argument against death penalty, Shadrake's "Once a Jolly Hangman" now available in Polish, launched in Belarus

Amnesty International network members may well remember Alan Shadrake's 2010 revealing book on executions in Singapore, Once A Jolly Hangman

It made an immediate impact with its analysis of the heartlessness and futility  of the judicial system, its accounts of individual cases, and the emotional suffering of those on death row and their families. 

Based partly on astonishing  interviews with Singapore's former hangman and courageous defense lawyers, the book made an indisputable argument against the death penalty. 

Shadrake's immediate post-launch arrest and imprisonment for "scandalising the judiciary" only served to heighten interest in the book and the issues it raises. 

The book is still banned in Singapore, and unconscionably Singapore retains the death penalty to this day.


However, Once A Jolly Hangman continues to play a crucial role in anti-death-penalty campaigning on the international stage. 

Once dubbed by The Economist as the world execution capital, Singapore is believed to have one of the highest per capita rates of execution of any country worldwide, thus remaining totally out of step in the move regionally and internationally towards a death penalty-free world. A historic momentum is building from which Singapore chooses to exclude itself.
Shadrake's "Once a Jolly Hangman" unearths new or little-known information. The author argues convincingly that only the cases with possible negative political or economic outcomes appear to have succeeded in preventing executions of foreign nationals. In contrast, he exposes the pitiful, hopeless situation of poor, uneducated or desperate drug mules with no important connections. - Margaret John, A.I. Canada


British author Alan ShadrakeSo much so that on July 1 of this year, a Polish-language edition is to be launched for use in Belarus (the sole EU retentionist country) and other countries of the former Soviet Union. 

I understand that an electronic version will soon be made available alongside the English-language print version (which can be found on Amazon). 

Alan Shadrake, author of Once a Jolly Hangman | Find related content here

I am glad that it is now accessible to a Polish-speaking readership, since its pertinence extends beyond Singapore.  

Source: Amnesty International Canada, Margaret John, June 29, 2020. Margaret John is Coordinator for Singapore and Malaysia.


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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