The Reason for "The Last Request"

  I wonder how many of you out there have ever found yourself in the unpleasant position of being the goat. Where events have conspired against you in such a way that you find yourself suspected of being the perpetrator of some minor atrocity, like when a lunch goes missing from the company fridge, or your wife discovers a strange smear of lipstick on your collar. It's aggravating isn't it?

  Now imagine yourself accused of murder and condemned to die for a crime of which you were completely innocent. That's the predicament that too many American's have found themselves facing. In fact, in 2001 thirteen men were released from Illinois's death row after subsequent DNA testing cleared them of all likelihood of being involved in the crime. That's a truly appalling number when you consider that Illinois had only executed a total of twelve men since 1977.

  The choice of a final meal is a sobering enough decision when you know that you, in fact, performed the crime you were accused of and you know you deserve to suffer the consequences, but it's another thing altogether when the only reason you're going to die is because the justice system has no interest in accuracy, just results. The marginalized members of our citizenry too often find themselves railroaded into a verdict simply because they can't afford a decent lawyer and that's simply wrong.

  So, I'm by no means glorifying the men you see in this production because I honestly don't know if they were really guilty or not. I just know that when I consider the choices they made for their final meals they were trying to tell us something. I hope you think so, too.

=mike stanfill=

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