Texas death row inmate, Ray Jasper, participated in the Huffington Post "Letters From Death Row" series. The Huff Post included his letter in an article on March 4. In the letter he touches on faith, politics and much more. The now famous death row inmate's letter was so extraordinary, it has now gone viral.
My time in jail introduced me to politics. I was too young and uneducated to understand politics before I got locked up. Now, I see everyone has their own agenda and ideology of how society should function and those in political offices enforce their own agenda upon others. I think politics is a shark's pool. There's not much empathy involved. I am a deeply religious person. I respect all religions, especially those who sacrifice for the service of God. I have a strong faith in Christ, but I do see religion is often misused and Americans are too intellectual to be truly religious spiritually, he wrote.
Jasper was convicted of the 1998 murder of a recording studio owner. Jasper was 18 years old at the time. He has been in prison for the past 15 years.
According to the article published on the Huffington Post website, the purpose of publishing these letters is to hear directly from people whose voices are not often heard. This is not a referendum on the guilt or innocence of any inmate. Ray Jasper responded to our questions numerically, so we will briefly list them here:
1. What do you think the chances are of your execution occurring as scheduled?
2. Can you describe daily life on Death Row?
3. Can you talk a bit about your own past and upbringing?
4. Has your time in jail changed your political or religious beliefs?
5. Do you have any thoughts on how the media and the public view the death penalty?
6. What else would you like to say to the public about your life, your situation, and what you think it means for our country?
Jasper responded, Mr. Nolan, I hope you're genuine in your endeavor and I hope you achieve your goal with your writing. I numbered your questions to match my answers. I'm sure you can take it from there.
1) I think any execution has a 50/50 chance of taking place. It comes down to the legalities of the case. The controversial issue in my case has been narrowed down to racial discrimination concerning the State of Texas purposely striking Black people from the jury panel. Racial discrimination on trial juries has a long-standing history in Texas. It was really made known in the Thomas Miller-el case where Dallas had a guide for their prosecutors to strike all minorities from the jury panel. So it's about whether the Courts will consider the issue worth halting the execution.
In December 2013, the Huff Post reportedly sent letters to all of the U.S. death row inmates who have execution dates in the 2014 year.
Ray Jasper is scheduled to be put to death in Texas March 19, 2014.
Read the article and letter in their entirety here.