Ray Jasper (pictured), a Death Row inmate in Texas scheduled for execution in two weeks, has written a lengthy letter from prison where he blasts the justice system and the specter of racial disparity. Jasper, who was a young rap artist at the time, was accused of the brutal robbing and killing of a recording studio owner in 1998. Convicted in 2000 and later sentenced to death, Jasper has used a platform provided to him in where he lashes out at the prison system, likening it to slavery.
Gawker Media began a Letters From Death Row series in 2012, in which Jasper previously participated. In his latest letter, Jasper writes a lengthy diatribe where he expresses a variety of thoughts about the industrial nature of prison, the imbalance of justice for African Americans and other thoughts. Also striking is that Jasper, 33, has become an eloquent writer behind bars and uses this letter as his final manifesto.
Without any questions, you’ve given me a blank canvas. I’ll only address what’s on my heart. Next month, the State of Texas has resolved to kill me like some kind of rabid dog, so indirectly, I guess my intention is to use this as some type of platform because this could be my final statement on earth.
I think ‘empathy’ is one of the most powerful words in this world that is expressed in all cultures. This is my underlining theme. I do not own a dictionary, so I can’t give you the Oxford or Webster definition of the word, but in my own words, empathy means ‘putting the shoe on the other foot.’
Jasper’s words are gripping in their frankness and almost somber tone of a man defeated by the weight of his circumstances. One of Jasper’s most scathing lines is his comparison of prisoners being treated like slaves under the U.S. Constitution.
“We look at slavery like its a thing of the past, but you can go to any penitentiary in this nation and you will see slavery,” he writes.
Jasper is scheduled to be put to death on March 19.