A Letter From Death Row

Ray Jasper
Texas Department of Criminal Justice

What would you write if you knew those words might be your last?

Ray Jasper is a death row inmate in Texas. His execution is scheduled for March 19.


According to Gawker, at the age of 19 Jasper was convicted of the 1998 robbery and murder of recording studio owner David Alejandro. He wrote a moving final letter to Gawker sharing his thoughts on the prison-industrial complex, racism and the death penalty.

"Next month, the State of Texas has resolved to kill me like some kind of rabid dog, so indirectly, I guess my intention is to use this as some type of platform because this could be my final statement on earth," he writes.

On prisons as slavery:

Under the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution all prisoners in America are considered slaves. We look at slavery like its a thing of the past, but you can go to any penitentiary in this nation and you will see slavery. That was the reason for the protests by prisoners in Georgia in 2010. They said they were tired of being treated like slaves. People need to know that when they sit on trial juries and sentence people to prison time that they are sentencing them to slavery.


On the justice system:

The Justice system is truly broken beyond repair and the sad part is there is no way to start over. Improvements can be made. If honest people stand up, I think they will be made over time. I know the average person isn't paying attention to all the laws constantly being passed by state & federal legislation. People are more focused on their jobs, raising kids and trying to find entertainment in between time. The thing is, laws are being changed right and left.


On the death penalty:

I don't agree with the death penalty. It's a very Southern practice from that old lynching mentality. Almost all executions take place in the South with a few exceptions here and there. Texas is the leading State by far. I'm not from Texas. I was raised in California. Coming from the West Coast to the South was like going back in time. I didn't even think real cowboys existed. Texas is a very 'country' state, aside a few major cities. There are still small towns that a black person would not be welcomed.


Read the letter in its entirety at Gawker.

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