Maryland inmate illuminates life on death row

About 100 people gathered in Funger Hall Tuesday evening to await a telephone call from death row inmate Tyrone X. Gilliam, the next prisoner slated for execution in Maryland.

Gilliam is one of 14 men on Maryland’s death row – he is incarcerated in Baltimore, Md. for murder.

The forum, sponsored by the GW Campaign to End the Death Penalty and the International Socialist Organization, offered a perspective on capital punishment from an inmate who faces it.

“What is it like living each day with the death penalty as a very near possibility?” an audience member asked.

“It’s very difficult waking up each day with that reality . waking up anticipating death every morning,” Gilliam said.

“What would you like us to take away from this phone call?” asked another audience member.

“Understand, first and foremost, that I am a human being,” Gilliam said.

The conversation steered toward concerns about capital punishment in the U.S. criminal justice system.

“(The death penalty) is totally racist, biased against the poor, kills innocent people . it’s murder by the state,” said Ellie Fingerman, Campaign to End the Death Penalty member and a 1996 GW graduate.

Death penalty opponents said many of the system’s ills stem from the racism and socioeconomic biases that run through the American law enforcement and judicial systems.

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