150 Miles of Hell

I recently read an article in Men’s Journal by Jeff Tietz called “150 Miles of Hell” and found it truly fascinating and scary. You can read it here. I liked it so much I wanted to try to illustrate a spread for it. After doing some conceptual style sketches I decided to go a route I rarely go and illustrate the images in my head. The final illustration is a bit gory and morbid, but for me that’s how the story was. The content is frightening. Why shouldn’t the visual representation be the same?

The illustration was done in brush and ink with digital coloring and the titles were done in ink on hand-made watercolor paper.

150 Miles of Hell Illustration

Time to Kill the Death Penalty

Blind Executions

Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed tonight at 7 PM. Here’s a small sample from his wikipedia page…

In August 17, 2009, the Supreme Court of the United States, over the dissenting votes of two justices, ordered a federal district court in Georgia to consider whether new evidence “that could not have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes [Davis’] innocence”. The evidentiary hearing was held in June 2010, during which affidavits from several prosecution witnesses from the trial changing or recanting their previous testimony were presented; some affiants asserted they had been coerced by police. The State presented witnesses, including the police investigators and original prosecutors, denying any coercion. Other witnesses who had not testified at trial asserted that Coles had confessed to the killing, but this evidence was excluded as hearsay as Coles was not subpoenaed by the defense to rebut it. In an August 2010 decision, the conviction was upheld by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, which described defense efforts to upset the conviction as “largely smoke and mirrors”. Subsequent appeals, including to the Supreme Court, were rejected, and a fourth execution date was set for September 21, 2011. Over 650,000 people signed petitions urging the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant clemency. Following a hearing, the Board denied him clemency,[1] and on September 21, 2011, the Board denied a request to reconsider its decision.[2]

This leads me to think about a lot of things. We live in the 21st century. We have instant replay in football to make sure we make the right choices, we’ve made it to the moon and back, yet we’re still letting the government kill people and won’t even consider the fact that something in a trial might be wrong and it could end an innocent person’s life…

Every time I hear about an execution all I can think about is… what if you’re wrong? Now please don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people that I wish (and think deserve) I could stomp into the ground (cough, cough, westboro baptist church, cough, cough, that’s another story) but the death penalty and our court system has proven to be wrong and flawed on so many accounts. No matter how many criminals die via the death penalty, are their deaths worth one innocent person’s life? No. I’m not saying that criminals should be set free, obviously, but why kill them with the understanding that maybe, just maybe, there might be a chance that someone who we as a country murder is innocent. It’s not right. It’s not a defense tactic, these aren’t soldiers protecting us, it’s murder.

I think about the West Memphis Three, how California killed Tookie Williams after he rehabilitated himself and proved to be a positive influence on the world, or Raymond Towler from Cleveland. Raymond wasn’t on death row but spent half of his life in prison until they discovered he was wrongly convicted. Half his life. Can you imagine? Of course there is the reverse. If my family was murdered would I want the person who did it to die? Of course. I’d want to kill him myself probably… but just because that’s what I might want isn’t worth possibly ending an innocent man’s life indirectly. My family wouldn’t be back, life would move on and as the death penalty takes more lives, some of them would be innocent and more families would be ruined.

Most of us live really great lives and spend it with friends and family. Can you imagine the horror of having half your life taken away or your whole life taken away for something you didn’t do?

“By this evening we can be sure that we’ve killed Troy Davis, but we still can’t be sure that Troy Davis killed anyone. – Mike Monteiro”