NPR, The Death Penalty, and Willie Nelson

Seven weeks into the new year, and I am already slipping on my New Year’s Resolution.

What’s so hard about reading a book a month after all?  Some kids read 100 books during their summer vacation and I can’t seem to get through one a month? 

Well – I am nearly finished with January’s book and I have enjoyed it quite a bit.  John Burnett is a reporter for NPR, and has traveled all over to get the story – no matter what it is.  His new book is Uncivilized Beasts and Shameless Hellions: Travels with an NPR Correspondent.

Burnett has reported on the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, the war in Afghanistan, the post-911 war in Iraq, as well the events of Hurricane Katrina.

Burnett finds a way to weave fact and commentary in a way that reads like a travelogue.  With twenty years of reporting experience, this guy has been there covering many of these top world events.

Burnett (being a Texas native) also covers capital punishment and the record number of men on death row in the state of Texas.  His story is written from the perspective of the (now retired) death house chaplain, Rev. Carroll Pickett.

Pickett got to know many of these death row inmates.  In addition to his counseling duties, he was also the person who helped facilitate these inmates’ last request before slipping off into eternal sleep.

Burnett writes:

"One time, Pickett called a radio station and had the warden delay the execution for three minutes so the inmate could hear his last request, Willie Nelson’s "Help Me Make It Through the Night."

I encourage you to read Burnett’s book.  Better yet – see this guy speak in person.  He’ll most certainly make you think