Every time I get the chance, I use my extended break between semesters to take a road trip through Mississippi where I was born, and then back to Texas where I grew up. Visiting friends and family and seeing my old childhood homes gives me a chance to think about where I’m going by reflecting on where I’ve been. This year’s road trip just happened to conclude on December 30th, which was the 20th anniversary of an important milestone in a larger personal journey. It was the day I interviewed John Paul Penry on Texas death row just a few miles from my parents’ house and just thirteen days before his scheduled execution.
John Paul Penry was a vicious rapist and killer. His first rape put him in prison, but he was paroled after just two years. While on parole, he committed his second rape, which concluded with his murder of the young victim. He beat her so badly