Death is inevitable. There is no escaping it. We are all going to die at some point; some will die sooner than others. Death is one of those few “constants” that we all have to deal with throughout our life.

Have you ever wondered how you would die? Or even thought about how your life may end? The people that I interview regularly think about these very questions day in and day out. For some, these thoughts become all-consuming. For many, this is all they ever really think about. You see, the people that I talk to are all death row inmates who have been sent to a prison within a prison where they are condemned to die.

Exploring the Mind of a Death Row Inmate

Journalists photograph the lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in California in 2010. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Not too many people can say the exact manner of death they are going to experience or the precise date of their eventual departure from this world but for those who have been sentenced to die for their actions, they can. They will eventually hold in their own hands, a piece of paper that will tell them the exact time and date that their life will be taken. Depending on the state they reside in, they may even get to choose as to the manner of death. An option, if you will, on how they wish the state to proceed in murdering them. Most will elect to have their life to be taken by an unknown combination of lethal drugs that will be administered through their veins until they are dead. I say “unknown” drugs because of the way the laws are written in this country, the types of drugs used in the lethal injection method of executing a person changes from month to month and state to state. In reality, they may never really know until the time comes as to what drugs will be administered to them to end their life.

A select few may choose such options as the electric chair or the firing squad to gain more media attention. Still, it has been my experience over the past decade of dealing with inmates on death row, if they have to be executed, then they want to go in a way that is as painless as possible, unlike the way they took the lives of their victims.

Exploring the Mind of a Death Row Inmate

Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss-born psychiatrist for whom the subject of death has been a preoccupation for more than 10 years, poses with the books she authored. (Getty Images)

It was Elizabeth Kubler-Ross who first discovered that when people are confronting their death, they tend to go through different stages before coming to teams with it. Denial, Anger, Bargaining for extra time, Depression, and finally, Acceptance. She outlined these stages back in 1970 and mostly for those who were facing death based on a terminal illness of some sort or just reaching the end of their average life expectancy. In 2016, much of this remains true to form even on death row.

I have seen first-hand; condemned inmates go through these very stages before they depart this world. The one thing that sets death row inmates apart from those who may be terminally ill awaiting their death is the danger that can be associated with the stages they may go through.

In the first issue of True Crime Magazine, Dr. Bill Kimberlin, death penalty and death row expert, explores the thoughts of the condemned as their execution draws near.
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