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"And you're told it's time to die": A Personal Contribution to the 2021 World Day Against the Death Penalty

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The following text is excerpted from  Death Row Diary , by William Van Poyck. William Van Poyck -- who maintained his innocence -- was executed by the state of Florida on June 12, 2013.  The 58-year-old, convicted of the 1987 murder of Glades Correctional Institution guard Fred Griffis outside a West Palm Beach doctor’s office, offered his views on everything from prison food to movies to the blood lust of politicians who support the death penalty via letters he posted online with the help of his sister.  After his conviction, Van Poyck, with a reform school education, authored three books, one of which won first-place honors in the memoir category in Writer’s Digest 2004 Self-Published Book Awards.  Locked up with what the courts have deemed the worst of the worst, Van Poyck opened the doors to a secret world few can imagine... The following piece is excerpted from William Van Poyck’s dispatches written during the last two years prior to his own execution. "Robert Waterhouse was

France | Remains of 500 people executed by guillotine in French Revolution may be buried in walls of listed Paris monument

Chapelle expiatoire, Paris
Bones fragments were discovered in the walls of the Chapelle Expiatoire, Paris

The remains of up to 500 people executed by guillotine in the French Revolution could be buried in the walls of a Paris monument, experts believe.  

Bone fragments were discovered in the walls of the Chapelle Expiatoire which is a classified monument in Paris. 

Archeologist Philippe Charlier examined the monument's walls with a small camera inserted through the stones, The Guardian reported. He said there was earth mixed with bone fragments.  

The monument is dedicated to King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette who were executed at the Place de la Révolution before being formally buried at the Basilica of St Denis

French authorities called in an archeologist, who inserted a camera through the stones in the walls, so they didn't damage the building's foundations. 

The chapel's administrator Aymeric Peniguet de Stoutz had noticed anomalies in the walls between the columns of the lower chapel.

Archeologist Charlier said the lower chapel had four ossuaries — chests or boxes — made of wooden boxes, which are filled with bones and were probably stretched out with leather. 

Peniguet de Stoutz has requested further research at the building.  

Founded in 1816, the Chapelle Expiatoire is a chapel in the 8th arrondissement of Paris near the Grand Boulevards on the site of the old Madeleine cemetery. 

The Madeleine cemetery was closed in 1794 when it reportedly run out of space.  

Historians believed the remains of 500 victims buried in the cemetery were eventually transferred to catacombs under the city. 

Louis XVI et Marie-Antoinette
The monument was built not far from a site where the guillotine was frequently used — the Place de la Révolution [Now Place de la Concorde].  

King Louis XVI was executed at the Place de la Révolution on January 21, 1793. Marie Antoinette, the final Queen before the French Revolution, was also executed there. 

Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette had been buried in Madeleine cemetery before Louis XVIII ordered their remains to be buried in the Basilica of St Denis when he became king in 1814.  

Physician and opponent of the death penalty Joseph-Ignace Guillotin said capital punishment should always be decapitation and sought to introduce a humane way to carry out executions. 

He proposed to the National Assembly on October 10, 1789, that this should be done by means of a simple mechanism. 

The National Assembly started to look into a new method of capital punishment in 1791 with the aim of ending life without inflicting unnecessary pain. 

The guillotine was deemed successful because it was considered a humane form of execution.

The history of the guillotine in France 


Physician Joseph-Ignace Guillotin said capital punishment should always be decapitation. 

On October 10, 1789, he proposed to the National Assembly that this should be done by means of a simple mechanism.

Guillotin was an opponent of the death penalty and wanted to find a device to carry out humane executions.

He was displeased with common, gruesome methods of execution and wanted to convince King Louis XVI to implement a less painful alternative.

Guillotine
The National Assembly started to look into a new method of capital punishment in 1791 which would end life without inflicting unnecessary pain.

The machine the Assembly designed was deemed successful because it was considered a humane form of execution.

The device consisted of 2 upright posts which were connected by a crossbeam and grooved to guide the knife according to Britannica.

The back off the oblique-edged knife was heavily weighted. This was designed to make it fall forcefully upon the neck of a prone victim and slice through it.

Before the guillotine was invented, a sword or an axe was used for members of the nobility. This meant it often took 2 or 3 blows to kill. Others were hanged.

The guillotine was to become the one method of civil execution, no matter the class of the condemned, which was also seen as an expression of equality.

It was the main legal method of civil execution until the death penalty was abolished in October, 1981, after it was last used in France in 1977.

Source: Mail Online, G. Simcox, July 5, 2020


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"And you're told it's time to die": A Personal Contribution to the 2021 World Day Against the Death Penalty