Editorial note: Amos King was executed February 26th, 2003 by the sovereign state of Florida.
Amos King was a man I used to visit on Death Row. In our discussions while he was under a death warrant, we discussed how his situation could be used to help others. He settled on three letters of which all are posted to this blog. They were a letter to Henri, a letter to a ten year old and finally reflections of 24 years on death row. They are his words and no attempt has been made to change the wording or grammar.
I am told that some teachers and counselors have used a Letter to a Ten Year old and a Letter to Henri as a counseling tool but I have no proof of it.
I had intended to write this letter to you as my last living act on January 23, 2002, a day before my scheduled execution. I was given a stay of execution with approximately twenty-eight hours to go. That stay could be lifted & I be dead by the time you get this.
A few days before my scheduled execution I sat on a gurney as a masked medic searched my arms for a suitable vein to inject the lethal poison in that would kill me.
As a ten year old I was pretty selfish, hardheaded, knew how to get my way most of the time or became angry & disappointed. I loved to explore & play in the woods. I obeyed my parents when I wanted to & knew when to get lost to avoid their orders I knew were coming. I was the center of my universe. Almost anything I wanted I got. Was popular at the time I usually got. I know now that it builds positive character to reject such items. That such behavior only reinforces ones selfishness.
Discipline must exist. Law must exits & punishment for disobeying laws & correcting must exist in a civilized society. Your hopes of education, pursuing your goals & dreams, Your freedom/liberties center around these [obedience, discipline, laws, punishment] as do your parents’ rights to have you, love you, raise you, work to feed, clothes, educate you & keep you safe.
So much your parents do for you at their expense of themselves-self-sacrifice for you- you don’t yet realize, even die for you, if necessary.
Looking back now I see clearly how my hard-headedness & disobedience hurt me, my parents, family & landed me in reform school & prison from which I ended up on death row.
The lack of parental discipline due to my own disobedience made me inclined to follow peer pressure, get into trouble, start a life of crime, drinking, drugs from smoking a joint to progressing to harder & harder drugs all the time going further & further down the wrong path.
This didn’t happen overnight but gradually one small step at a time, disobeying parents, breaking rules then laws. It’s all basically one and the same. If you disobey your parents who love you, gave you life & want the best for you, you’ll easily break the law & do bad things.
Along the path of disobedience & crime you’ll get courageous & bold in your behavior & feel invincible. The threat of reform school & even prison might not intimidate you as it should. But know this, juveniles in reform school sometimes do things their that land them in prisons wherein they’re at the mercy of adult, hardened criminals some of whom have nothing to lose and will take advantage of you. Guys in prison with very short sentences do stuff/fall into circumstances and end up with life sentences, death sentences, dead-murdered or forced to commit murder to stay alive. There are guys who’ve been raped by other prisoners with AIDS. A most pitiful sight is a man who has had is manliness forcefully taken a way from him by another so-called man by rape and then begun to behave feminine as a result.
All these terrible things you can avoid by embracing the right behavior-odedience to those who love & care about you & only want the best for you. This is the right path. The path of respect for yourself.
There’s a certain satisfaction in obeying & learning & making your parents proud & happy. One day you’ll want the same from your own child.
Doing homework builds character & discipline that’ll help you as you mature & grow into a man. You’ll experience the benefits as you grow.
To do wrong means always having that uncomfortable fear in you that you’ll be founded out & punished about something. This in itself tells you that you’re not living the right life, the one you should be living for yourself.
As a ten-year old sometimes you’ll feel all alone or that you’re not getting the proper attention. Remember parents have other responsibilities. A lack of attention doesn’t mean your not loved & thought of. Most parents want to spend more time with their children & family but must work & do other things.
In closing I wish you the best. So much is dependent upon you.
I leave you with a Bible verse. Third John 2:”Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”
February 8, 2002