Herbert Richardson was a Vietnam vet with early childhood trauma and drug experimentation by age 7.
After returning from the war, a teenage Richardson was completely hooked on drugs and emotionally disturbed.
He was unable to get the professional attention he required.
In 1977, Richardson left a homemade bomb on the porch of an ex-girlfriend.
The woman’s 11-year old niece picked up the bomb instead, and was killed instantly.
A year later, Richardson was sentenced to death.
On the day of his execution, Richardson noticed something very strange.
Bryan Stevenson is Richardson’s attorney; he was with Richardson in his final hours.
This is what Bryan Stevenson told Oprah:
“I was back there with him right before the execution, and he was saying to me, ‘All day long, people have been saying, What can I do to help you? Can we get you water? Can we get you coffee? Can we get you stamps to mail your last letter?‘ And I never will forget him saying to me… ‘Bryan, it’s been so strange. More people have said, What can I do to help you? in the last 14 hours of my life than they ever did in the first 19 years of my life.'”
“I was holding his hands, standing there with him and thinking, ‘Yeah, where were they when you were 3 when your mom died? Where were they when you were 7 and you were experimenting with drugs? Where were they when you were a young teenager returning from Vietnam traumatized and drug-addicted?”
While Stevenson does believe people who commit horrific crimes should be punished, he is against the death penalty.
He says he watched Richardson be strapped into the electric chair and executed.
The attorney said that day changed him forever:
“The shame of that was, for me, what I couldn’t let go. They had the guards come in and shave the hair off [Richardson’s] body to prepare him for execution, and I watched those men do that. I don’t think I’d ever seen human beings more pained by something they had to do.”
“The pain and shame of that made me believe that we can do better.”
Video courtesy of OWN:
Source: Huffington Post