Last Letters from Barbados Death Row Inmates

Her Majesty’s Glendairy Prison was built in 1855 and had many executions.

The prison opened with 72 of the prisoners then confined to the Town Hall being transferred to the new facility. For 150 years the prison served its purpose as the island’s principal detention center well until it was destroyed by fire in March 2005.

Glendairy Prison was decommissioned and a new prison called Her Majesty’s Dodds Prison was built in the Parish of St. Philip, Barbados.
The last execution at Glendairy Prison in Barbados was in 1984.

The Feeling on Death Row

It’s pretty unnerving for an inmate. Knowing that the end is near, and that there is nothing they can do about it. The thoughts of the inmate, I would speculate, would center around depression and suicidal ideation.

The prolonged anticipation of death can sometimes cause the condemned to become insane.
In the early 1980s, that’s almost forty years ago, McDonald Fingall, a former teacher visited Her Majesty’s Glendairy Prison and got letters from several condemned prisoners.

In July this year (2021) we at Obit Moments spoke to Mr. Fingall, below are letters from some prison inmates, some who were put to death.

The Letters

Melville Inniss, Age 19 | Hanged October 10th 1984

Dear students, you have never been condemned, so let me tell you what it’s like.
Every day you live and die over and over again, you find yourself arguing if this and if that, until you feel you’re going crazy. Then you blame everybody.

Finally exhausted from lack of sleep, and unbelievably sad, you blame yourself.
You blame yourself for wasting opportunities, for not trying hard enough, for being a fool.
Prison is dread. But being condemned is far worse of the sense of utter finality of the sentence.
I fell into a trap: don’t fall in too.
Remember that the best things in life are worth striving for.
Take care.

Melville Inniss

Errol Farrel, Age 26 | Hanged October 10th 1984

Hello students. For me, life is quite depressing because I’ve lost my appeal against the court’s verdict. Looking back at the mess I’ve made of my life, I often yearn for the simple problems of long gone schooldays.
No matter how hard your life seems, prison is no place for you. Behind every dark cloud is a silver lining but behind prison doors, the sun isnt shining. “Keep cycling on the right track”.

Yours, Errol Farrell

Noel Jordan, Age 23 | Hanged October 10th 1984

Hi students. What matters right now is… how on earth did I get myself into a situation like this in the first place?

Drugs and bad friends can be your biggest enemies. Some youths smoke so much marijuana that they can assist the Government with the fogging programme, and all they have to show for it are minds so badly twisted out of alignment with reality that they become easy prey for bad friends.
Friends, nothing is so bad as to make you give up on life. It’s better to learn than to burn. Be careful of bad friends. So long,

Noel Jordan

Clifford Boxhill, Age 18 | Condemned

Hello brothers and sisters! There is a saying which goes something like this.
You never miss the water till the well runs dry”.

Had I known better, I would have done it differently. If, if, if!
Instead of boring you, let me ask you one question. Suppose you were walking down the road and you saw someone going before you fall into a hole and break his back, would you continue walking and fall in too?

Let your answer dictate your way of life. Go with God.

Clifford Boxhill

Timothy Howell, Age 28 | Condemned

Dear students, the mental anguish of a condemned man can be truly unbearable. Each time an official visits the prison one can go into a mild shock cause after all, he may be the marshal with a signed execution order.

Food seems tasteless and the simplest thing gets on your nerves. It is a sad, sad state to find yourself in.

Some people get into trouble because they are not strong enough mentally to take sudden, terrible shocks. Be careful.

Remember that your dear families and teachers, with all their faults, are
trying to help you in the best way they know how. Show them love, show them patience, show them respect. With all your disillusionments, life is still worth living.

Yours truly, Timothy Howell

Lawson Williams, Age 34 | Condemned

Dear students, I believed that hard or soft, for good or bad, life is how we make it. There is a saying those who sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind?
When the world seems against you and your problems weigh heavily on your mind, go off into a quiet place and pray.

Pray for courage to stand alone, for the Lord’s help and for true faith in God.
What he can do, no man can undo. God bless you.

Lawson Williams

Joseph Jackman, Age 19 | Condemned

Dear students, if I had the slightest idea that my life would have taken such a terrible turn, I would have heeded warnings about life’s evils. Now I’m in prison, condemned to hang and my future is in shambles. Prison is a dreadful place, so dreadful that I am warning you not to do anything that may cause you to end up here.

Your teachers or relatives who warn you of dangers can hardly wish you evil.

Joseph Jackman

Hallam Benjamin, Age 22 | Condemned

Dear students, If anyone had told me that I would be condemned to hang, I would have laughed in their face. Now, God knows, this is no laughing matter.

I was raised in a nice christian home, and due mainly to my mum’s encouragement, I regularly took part in our Sunday School choir.

The future looked quite promising, until like a bolt of lightning, I became enmeshed in a nightmarish incident beyond my wildest imagination – murder.

Of course, nobody knows what the future holds. But if you build a solid character, reinforce it with honesty, augment it with a sense of duty, nurture it with love for your fellowman, and feed it with positive aspirations, you will hardly go wrong.

Let me number you, not among the weak who failed, but among the strong who prevailed.
Peace! Brothers and sisters.

Hallam Benjamin