Note by HealthWrights staff:

Perhaps the most effective argument against capital punishment is getting to know those who are going to be executed as actual people. For this reason I have provided an entry for a person who is scheduled to die on June 12, 2013. His diary (which is facilitated by his sister) can be accessed here. Also, those interested in reading what people on Death Row think and feel might be interested in a book entitled “My Friends on Death Row: Voices Silenced One by One,” which is available here.

The Diary Entry

May 12, 2013

Dear Sis~

PoyckWilliam Van PoyckOn Tuesday they came and measured me for my execution/burial suit.  Sometime soon I'll be given the details on how "the body" will be disposed of following the legally required autopsy (will my cause of death really be a mystery?).  I understand the State will pay for a cremation should I choose this form of disposal (I do) and my ashes will be available at a Gainesville Funeral home; but don't quote me on that yet.  Discussing the practical aspects of my upcoming death was a little disconcerting, but I took it in stride.  

I've been on death watch for 10 days now and I have 31 days left to live.  (It seems surreal when I write that out, and just as surreal that all those around me accept this as a normal and natural thing).  My cell (one of three) is next to the execution chamber so I won't have far to walk.  There's another guy down here with me, his execution is set for 2 weeks before mine so assuming he doesn't get a stay I'll have a front row seat to how the final days and hours play out. Aren't I lucky?

I gotta tell you, Sis, there's a big difference between contemplating your death in the abstract and seriously considering it when it's an absolute, undeniable soon-to-occur fact, when you are counting down the exact days you have left here on Schoolhouse Earth.  I got little sleep the first week, perhaps 2 hours a night and then I was up and wide awake at 2:00 a.m., mind racing, thoughts all a-jumble, despite my best breathing and meditation techniques.  I'd finally get my mind onto some mundane subject and then, bam!, my gut would knot up as the thought suddenly elbowed its way into my mind, these guys are going to take me next door and kill me in X number of days!  This still happens a dozen times a day, and more at night.

When your warrant gets signed so many things suddenly become trivial.  I've already thrown or given away 95% of my personal property, the stuff that for years seemed so important.  All those great books I'll never get to read; reams and reams of legal work I've been dragging around, and studying, for 2 decades and which has suddenly lost its relevance.  My magazines and newspapers stack up unread; I have little appetite to waste valuable, irreplaceable hours reading up on current events.  Does it really matter to me now what's happening in the Middle East, or on Wall Street, or how my Miami Dolphins are looking for the upcoming new season?  What's the point?  Ditto the TV; I'm uninterested in wasting time watching programs that now mean nothing in the grand scheme of things.  The other day I caught myself reaching for my daily vitamin.  Really?, I wondered, as the absurdity hit me.  Likewise, after 40 years of working out religiously, that's out the window now.  Again, what's the point? Now, every decision about how to spend the next hour reminds me of Elaine in that Seinfeld episode where she had to constantly evaluate whether her boyfriends were really "sponge worthy."  I spend my time in my spiritual/metaphysical books, or listening to my MP3 player, or meditating/contemplating/reflecting on life's universal mysteries.

After 10 days on death watch you know what I've come away with?  This shit isn't right!  On so many levels!  I'm not talking about me, about the particulars of my case.  I mean across the board, for anyone. This institutionalized and ritualized killing of our fellow human beings, this process which, in its mundane daily regularity seeks to make this very abnormal thing normal and acceptable.  It's sick, and it's crazy when you actually consider what's going on.  The folks here who are thanklessly tasked with actually carrying it out, they do not like doing it.  They see us, talk with us, occasionally laugh and joke with us, on a daily basis, and then one day they have to come in and kill us.  This ain't natural!  One day, I pray, we as a nation will have an expansion of consciousness and we'll ask ourselves how we ever thought this was right.

Today is Mother's Day, and as I usually do this time of year I open my photo album and look at those old black and white photos of Mom (God, she was beautiful!) and wonder how my life would have turned out differently if she had not died when I was a baby, if I'd had a mother to love me, raise me, guide and nurture me, a mom I could love, look up to, and be determined not to disappoint.  These are, for now, unanswerable questions, but when I pass over to the next plane I hope to get some answers.  If nothing else I'll be with Mom and Dad and that is what gives me such peace.

                Love & Light,