Death Watch



Age 48

Resides Manhattan

Occupation Messenger

Do you believe in the death penalty? It’s a tricky thing. McVeigh should be put to death for the Oklahoma City bombing, but so, too, should a president who stood there and lied to the entire country.

Should executions be public? No, that would make us like the Romans. This country is very confused about how it metes out justice. The drug war is a perfect example. If you light up a joint, you’ve got 20 cops on you in an instant, and yet more serious crimes go unpunished.

Would you watch one? Personally, I don’t think I would, but both the Unabomber and Timothy McVeigh deserve to be put to death. McVeigh says he wants to die. He reminds me of Edward Albee’s Zoo Story, the guy who wants to die at the hands of someone else because he’s too chicken to kill himself.


Age 33

Resides Manhattan

Occupation Musician

Do you believe in the death penalty? I think I’m against it for the simple and corny reason that one innocent person might be put to death.

Should executions be public? Deep down, I think the public should have a right to see it. The government should own up to the fact that they’re executing people. I do believe that 90 percent of the audience for an execution would be there simply for the gore factor, so I don’t exactly know who would benefit.

Would you watch one? Yes, I probably would. I wouldn’t tape it to watch later, but if I knew it was on, I’d watch. Killing is a very human instinct, and people have been doing it to each other for hundreds of years.


Age 38

Resides Brooklyn

Occupation Computer administrator

Do you believe in the death penalty? No. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and we don’t have the right to take a person’s life. There has to be another way. What about putting someone in solitary confinement for the rest of their lives?

Should executions be public? Yes. Heaven knows how many innocent people have been wrongly executed. It might make us think more about the death penalty.

Would you watch one? I would watch for the experience, but honestly, I’d be watching the faces of the guards doing the killing.


Age 38

Resides Manhattan

Occupation Editor

Do you believe in the death penalty? No, but primarily because it’s not a deterrent.

Should executions be public? No, it’s barbaric, and I think rather than sensitizing people to the issue of the death penalty, it would desensitize them. People see so many killings on television anyway that a live execution would just get high ratings. They could market it like Temptation Island.

Would you watch one? I wouldn’t watch for entertainment. I can’t even watch wrestling. It would be like watching the Christians being thrown to the lions.


Age 29

Resides Queens

Occupation Graphic designer

Do you believe in the death penalty? Yes, for certain crimes. I think we need better testing because you’ve got to be certain you’re not executing an innocent person.

Should executions be public? Are you asking me if I’d go to Astor Place to see someone be hanged? No. It is a deterrent, but it should be carried out in private.

Would you watch one? No.


Age 38

Resides Queens

Occupation Floor installer

Do you believe in the death penalty? Yes. An eye for an eye is the law. If you kill someone, you should die. On the other hand, the system works differently for rich people than it does for the poor. Rich football players who commit violent crimes should be put to death, but they have enough money to buy their way out.

Should executions be public? Yes, it would certainly satisfy a lot of victims, and I think it would make us think more about the issue.

Would you watch one? Yes, I watch Court TV every day after work. I’d watch an execution.


Age 42

Resides Manhattan

Occupation Photographer

Do you believe in the death penalty? No. Institutionalized murder is no better than ordinary murder.

Should executions be public? I don’t know. It’s a grotesque issue.

Would you watch one? On some academic level, I suppose we should bear witness to the best and the worst that we’re doing, but having said that, I wouldn’t make time for it in my date book.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 13, 2001

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