Yesterday, the state of Ohio killed the inmate of the month, Clarence Carter, who had a long arrest record that included robbery, drug trafficking and two counts of murder. He was no saint. In 1988, Carter was awaiting sentencing for the murder of a fellow drug trafficker when another inmate attacked him with a shank. How often does the average person get to use the word "shank" when not referring to a prison movie? Not often, I'd suspect, but the word really exists and the thing is really used. In self-defense, Carter fought back, but during the fight, he claims he lost control of his anger. He yelled for witnesses to get the deputy on duty to help him stop the fight, but no deputy was summoned, and Carter killed the inmate. For that crime, he was sentenced to death.
In a clemency reporter, which you can read here, it was made known the jury in the case was never informed of Carter's mental status—he had a borderline IQ—nor his childhood background—he was warped by abuse. The report states that the death penalty is usually used for what the system considers "the worst of the worst," and Carter did not fit that description. Despite his low IQ, he did prove to have a conscience and stated several times he was sorry for his crimes, and his participation in prison programs demonstrated he was no longer a danger to inmates. He asked for his sentence to be changed to life without parole, but his request was denied.
Here is an excerpt from a Columbus Dispatch article, which described his last moments—while strapped to the table awaiting lethal injection, he said:
"Let them know I'm sorry for what I did, especially his mother," he said of the family of his victim, Johnny Allen, 33. "I ask God for forgiveness and I ask them for forgiveness. "God can change you," he said. "God can do positive things in your life."