At 12:46 am EST, 6.46 am GMT, my friend, Brandon Astor Jones, was pronounced dead. He had been scheduled to die more than six hours before, but his lawyers applied to the Supreme Court to hear the case. The appeal was rejected.
Brandon turned down the his right to choose his final meal, took a final prayer and recorded a statement which is currently not known, and was then killed for a mistake made almost four decades ago.
To the Jones Family
I hope you know what a wonderful man Brandon had become, and the extent to which he touched not just my life, but the lives of those like me all across the world. He is a man to be proud of, and his death is a tragedy and an injustice. I will forever remember him as an embodiment of hope, not for freedom or prosperity, but hope that any person, no matter who they were or what their past has been like, is capable of becoming good and making good choices.
To the Tackett family
I am sorry for the loss you experienced in 1979, and I know that Brandon was sorry too. Katie, I can’t imagine what it would have been like to grow up having had your father taken from you at the age of seven, and I am truly sorry that it is that way. I know you hope that Brandon’s death will bring you closure, and I know that it will not. I suppose it is of little comfort to you to learn that there are many people who regarded Brandon as being like a father, or grandfather, even one they had never met, but I hope that you find some peace in knowing that although Brandon was not able to take back the mistakes that he made, he did what he could to make the world better, knowing he would never be free. I hope you are able to find peace, but I think that peace will come from forgiveness, not from hate.
To Brandon’s friends, and those who wrote to the Board for him
I am unable to say this on behalf of anyone besides myself, but thank you. Although our appeals were not successful, it was a wonderful thing that however many dozens or hundreds of us came together to show love and support for Brandon, whom I know many of you have never met or corresponded with. Every person who wrote did the right thing, and I am grateful for it, and I am sure that Brandon is grateful for it too.
To the hypocrites, the pseudo-Christians, and those who used God to justify killing
The way in which you wield God’s name to justify your own evils are sickening, and it costs the lives of real human beings. I am speaking to you if you are one of the many I encountered who have been sure that it was “right” for Brandon to die because God would require death for him, or butchered your bibles to rip out scripture and patch it across your heartless desires with throwaway verses such as “reap what you sow” and “those who practice such things deserve to die”. You claim that you follow what Jesus taught and yet have completely missed the point; mercy. You believe that you have been shown mercy from God but do not believe that you should show it yourselves, your loveless comments and hostile attitudes toward other humans are appalling. If mercy was only shown to those who deserved it, it would never be shown. You can claim that you believe that death should be repaid with death, if you want, and you can claim to follow the example that Jesus gave to you, but you cannot do both, and your insistence on doing so is the reason why, in one of his letters to me, Brandon told me that “Christians were some of the worst people I have ever met.” We wrote at some length at how Christians can often be the worst advertisement for Christianity, and it is heartbreaking to see that the same would remain true even in his death. I hope you will change, and will learn what forgiveness and mercy and love really mean, and I only hope for this because I am told to love my enemies, because you are my enemies.
To the State of Georgia
I find it a very bleak thing indeed that the best thing you can think to do with people who have committed crimes and made mistakes is to kill them. The racism and injustice in your prison systems is blatant, costly, and not something fit for a civilized society. Many of your executions are legally questionable if not downright illegal, and yet you continue to rid yourselves of troublesome individuals by their deaths. You have fully ignored that in your killing of Brandon, you have taken something good from the world, not something bad. You are oblivious to the fact that people can change and do brilliant and brave things, too consumed by your pursuit of “justice” to notice the cost that it may come with. Repeatedly you have pardoned criminals you have previously executed, and even with Brandon, it seems very doubtful that he would receive the same sentence today. Rid yourselves of this regrettable system of killing, and find a better way to deal with those who have made mistakes.