Tonight, Jesse Hernandez will become the 282nd person executed by lethal injection in Texas since 2000. Six more men are scheduled to die at the hands of the state by the end of this year.
Unlike Troy Davis or Cameron Todd Willingham, whose death penalty cases attracted national media attention, Hernandez does not claim to be innocent—he admitted to beating 10-month-old Karlos Borjas with a flashlight before the child died of head injuries. But like the vast majority of people in Texas and across the country who admitted committing horrendous crimes, his execution is likely to go widely unnoticed.
But no matter how much attention his case receives, every death row inmate has the chance to express his thoughts before the poison courses through his veins. On its website, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice prints every offender's last statement, which contain expressions of love, prayer, apology, defiance, confession, and silence. Taken together, they comprise a heartbreaking snapshot of nearly 300 lives lost.
"Tonight we tell the world that there are no second chances in the eyes of justice," Napoleon Beazley said just before he was executed on May 28, 2002. "Tonight, we tell our children that in some instances, in some cases, killing is right… No one wins tonight. No one gets closure. No one walks away victorious."
Click to enlarge the infographic to see the most common words used in final statements, as well as information about the people executed in Texas over the past dozen years.