We know that the death penalty system is broken. Racial bias, junk science, underfunded public defense, and other serious breakdowns in our legal system can mean that people – sometimes innocent people – will languish on death rows for years while pursuing appeals. Spending these years in extreme isolation can erode mental health to the point that some will “volunteer” to die rather than continue to live under such conditions. Many prisoners die a slow and painful psychological death before the state ever executes them. Never mind the countless innocent people languishing on death row. The story of Anthony Graves, featured in the video above, brings the issue into sharp focus.
From 1994 to 2006, Anthony Graves spent at least 22 hours a day locked alone in a small cell waiting to die — all for a crime he did not commit. During those years, 400 other prisoners were also locked alone on Texas’ death row. Anthony recounts what it means to be completely alone for 12 years on death row.