His Death Was Postponed. He Has Plans For How He Wants To Live.

gray metal chain up close
Zain Murdock
February 27, 2024

The system needed someone to blame after the 1993 Lucasville Prison Uprising. That someone was Keith LaMar. There was no evidence against him but he was sentenced to death.

November 16, 2023, was his execution date. But when it was pushed to January 13, 2027, LaMar had one response: “I’m going to make you regret this.”

The day he was meant to die, LaMar published a letter reflecting on the wisdom he had gained after nearly 30 years on death row. For the rest of us, the world moved on, but each of us will eventually die, too.

To LaMar, the inevitable tragedy of not just death but a state-sanctioned death is his motivation.

For decades, he relied on intention and love to resist the criminal legal system. From studying Black history and learning jazz to going on hunger strikes and penning anti-prison essays, he has stopped the state from extinguishing his agency and his drive. For four more years, he plans to keep going.

Prisons, whether literal or metaphoric, are designed for death. With a population of about 2,000, death row is a unique circumstance that, in a liberated future, no one would have to experience. 

What we can all take from LaMar’s lead is to use whatever time we have to resist systems intent on dehumanization and destruction. Choosing life is how we practice the future we want to see.

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