A harrowing call from MO’s death row

I got a call this evening from my friend Reggie Clemons. I could tell as soon as I heard Reggies’ voice that something was wrong. I didn’t know that Missouri had another execution scheduled for tonight–the 4th execution in as many months. 

“We live together, we see each other all the time,” he said, sounding more shaken than I have ever heard him. He wanted to call me, he said, because he wanted to talk to someone who knows what he’s going through. 

But the honest truth is that I don’t know what Reggie is going through. 

Yes, I have lived through the execution of a friend I loved dearly, and I know how that feels. 

But I don’t know how it feels to live on death row, seeing one after another of my friends being taken to die, knowing that the state has the same fate in store for me. I have not lived what Reggie is living.

I talked to Reggie, flashing back to the night in 2010 that Troy called me, equally shaken, because his friend Brandon Rhode, who was slated to be executed the next day, had been found by the guards unconscious, after he had managed to slice himself up as he lay under blankets with a razor blade he had managed to sneak into death watch. All this was under the guards’ eyes. They rushed Brandon to the hospital, saved his life and stitched him back up. Then they restrained him so he could not attempt to harm himself again…until they strapped him to the gurney to execute him. 

After 15 minutes, Reggie had to hang up–his phone time was up.

“I wish we could talk for more than 15 minutes at a time,” he said. 

If Missourri proceeds with the 12:01am scheduled execution of Michael Taylor, my thoughts will be not only with Michael, his family, the teenaged girl who was killed in 1989 and her family…they will be with Reggie and everyone else on Missouri’s death row, who has had to endure this scripted death of a member of their community 4 times in 4 months.

My thoughts will be with them all.

And they will be with Troy.


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