"Dear President of the Republic, we are tired of dying a little each day ...
Yesterday, la Repubblica newspaper printed a letter written by an Italian inmate serving a life sentence requesting that Italy (and by association, the rest of the European Union) reinstate the death penalty. Addressed to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, the letter was signed by 310 other lifers who feel that a life sentence is a fate worse than death.
"We have decided to die only once; we ask that our life sentences be changed into the death penalty ... It's a death you drink sip by sip".The full letter has not been translated online, and Alta Vista's Babel Fish service just doesn't cut the prosciutto. According to the Beeb, more than 1300 inmates are serving life sentences in Italy, which abolished capital punishment after World War II. It should also be noted that Italy has been pushing for an international moratorium since the execution of Saddam Hussein.
I've asked a few anti-death penalty activists involved in Texas cases for their take.
Scott Cobb, president of the Texas Moratorium Network:
"It doesn't surprise me that some inmates would prefer death to life in prison, because some inmates consider life in prison a harsher punishment. Josef Marino, who was convicted of murdering Nancy De Priest, told Nancy's mother Jeanette Popp that he wanted the death penalty because life in prison was 'too hard.' Despite his desire for the death penalty, Jeanette asked the DA not to seek the death penalty against Marino and he is now serving life in prison. Texas could be both tough on crime and could also avoid executing the wrong people, as it probably did in the cases of Ruben Cantu, Cameron Willingham and Carlos De Luna, by sentencing people life in prison instead of death."
Dee, a death-row inmate advocate:
"It's sad to know that these Italian inmates with life-without-parole sentences wish they could end their lives with the death sentence insead, since some of our death inmates are literally fighting for their lives.
"It does show one thing to the pro-death penalty people, and that is that life in prison without the possibility of parole is in itself a living hell, and punishment enough for their crime."
I'll post more as they're emailed to me, but please do add your reaction below.