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Death Row Inmate's Last Words of Love

Imagine you've been convicted of a terrible crime, and are given the chance to speak for a few minutes before your execution. Would you express anger? Remorse? Love? The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, maintains a digital archive of every inmate's last statement, going back to 1976. This amounts to 534 prisoners.

One website analyzed all of these prisoners' final statements for common words and patterns. Of 534 total inmates, 417 inmates either spoke or wrote out a final statement. The most common word, used by 63 percent of all speakers, was love. Other words that convey affection—heart, care, loved—also ranked high on this list.

In most cases, the word is used to address family members who are present at the execution, on the other side of the glass window. But it is also used to express feelings toward the victim's family members, lawyers, the court, and even the warden/prison staff.

Here are a few examples of the actual last words from death row inmates:

  • "I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you. Take care y'all."
  • "I say this with love: I'm sorry. I say this for my family with love and with God, I love you. To the family of my boss, I love you. All I have is love."
  • "I'll start by saying I love all of you."
  • "I want to tell you folks there … I have a love in my heart for you."
  • "First, I would like to give praise to God for the love and grace that he has allowed for all of this to come together."

Possible Preaching Angles: No matter who we are, no matter how much we struggle in life, deep down we are all hungry to give and receive love—from God and others.

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