The Angolite: A Prison Magazine's Inside View on Choosing Execution

A recent issue of the award-winning prison news magazine, The Angolite, featured a story by inmate Lane Nelson about Gerald Bordelon, the first person to be executed in Louisiana since 2002. Bordelon expedited his own execution by choosing to waive his appeals, including his direct appeal, which was previously thought to be a mandatory part of the state's death penalty process. Bordelon volunteered for execution after he was found guilty of raping and murdering his 12-year-old stepdaughter. The choice to waive his appeals was met with strong disagreement from his team of inmate counsels (volunteer prisoners who act as attorney substitutes), who decided they would not assist him in his choice.  Bordelon was represented in his desire to be executed by a noted constitutional attorney from Baton Rouge, Jill Craft.  She succeeded in having the court allow Bordelon to waive his appeals, but later said she would never do it again. Bordelon told The Angolite why he volunteered for his execution: "I'm doing this for [the victim] Courtney.  I'm doing it for her family.  I'm doing it for me.  I'm doing it for my family so they don't have to worry and deal with it for the next 20 or 30 years.  I'm doing it for a lot of reasons."

Since 1976, of the 35 states that currently have the death penalty, 31 have at least had one volunteer for execution. Texas has had the most volunteers (26), while Nevada has the most striking ratio: 11 of the 12 executions that occurred between 1979 and 2009 were volunteers.

(L. Nelson, "Execution: A personal choice," The Angolite, January/February 2010; posted May 11, 2010).  See also Executions and Articles.  To subscribe to The Angolite, send payments and subscription information to:

THE ANGOLITE
c/o Cashier's Office
Louisiana State Penitentiary
Angola, LA 70712