Vote: Publish with minor changes.
Thank you for this significant and unique contribution to research on the death penalty and executed persons. The authors conduct a great comparative analysis between the last words from modern Texas and mid-nineteenth-century England. A few minor recommendations should be considered to enrich the manuscript and bring it more aligned to extant research findings.
First, my biggest concern is that no Texas statements are provided in-text. The English statements are intriguing, and the manuscript’s comparative analysis would benefit from presenting Texas statements as examples. Although existing literature almost exclusively uses Texas statements, I was still expecting to see Texas statements. Therefore, making a statement addressing why those are not present would be essential. Otherwise, the authors provided good examples of each theme.
Next, I recommend adding the articles:
Amjad, I., & Rafi, M. S. (2017). A Phenomenological Analysis of Death Row Inmates’ Last Words. Pakistan Journal of Criminology, 9(3), 114-127.
This study’s broad definition of last words for English condemned prisoners is similar to this work.
Awwalu, J., Abdullahi, S. E. Y., & Nonyelum, O. F. (2020). Naïve Bayes Emotion Classification of Final Statements from Death Row Youths before Execution. Malaysian Journal of Computing and Applied Mathematics, 3(2), 60-72.
McCaffree, K., Saide, A., & Shermer, M. (2020). Racial dynamics underlying crime commission, emotionality, and last statements among executed offenders in Texas. Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, 18(1), 72-94.
Smith, R. A. (2018). The Functional Use of Religion When Faced with Imminent Death: An Analysis of Death Row Inmates’ Last Statements. The Sociological Quarterly, 59(2), 279-300.
Smith, R. A. (2019). Framing Forgiveness: An Analysis from the Offender’s Point of View. Review of Religious Research, 61(4), 341-363.
Smith, R. A. (2020). Race, Ethnicity, and the Functional Use of Religion When Faced with Imminent Death. Religions, 11(10), 500.
Eaton (2014) should be added to the list of those that explored final words from states outside of Texas. While the states used were not specified in the article, Eaton (2014) does compare final words from people executed in Southern and non-Southern states. Additionally, data on final words from other states is collected through the website of the Clack County Prosecuting Attorney (see http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/death/death.htm).
I also recommend expanding more on the importance or implications of this research in our general understanding of people on death row and executions and possibly discussing implications for those working with this population. Similarly, it is important to include the limitations of this study.
Lastly, make sure citation formatting is consistent throughout the manuscript.