England and the likes of CongressmannMervyn Dymally in the United States,nwho formed ad hoc committees posingnas larger voter bodies (Dymally’s as thenwhole of the U.S. Congress) and sentnfaxed petitions on behalf of the Coardites.nThen Amnesty International gotninto the act, with mmors that Jesse Jacksonnwas not far behind.nThis was curious since none of thesensensitive souls had seen fit to criticize ournother islands, like Barbados, Jamaica,nTrinidad, or even little Dominica, whichnregularly hang criminals. Grenada, receivingnthe brunt of Amnesty International’snire, had not used the noose for a decade.nNor does it have a hangman. The mainnnewspaper on the island chimed in withnthese assiduous democrats, running anninflammatory story that claimed five ofnthe condemned had been selected tonbe hanged at the dead of night, and thatnthe Richmond Hill prison had gibbets,nstraitjackets, graves, and a priest all ready.nof course, if five were hanged, then allnhad to be, including the woman. Equally,npardon Phyllis and you had to pardonnthe lot. A last-minute reprieve—fromnwhom I have never discovered—is supposednto have saved the neck of the fivenselectees. I could find no hard evidencenfrom my prison contacts that there wasnany truth in this story, put out by an editornwho is a notorious anti-capital punishmentncrank and a lawyer who was innfact the attorney general of the revolutionaryngovernment. Radio Grenada ranna pro-clemency series with its stars beingnthe hotheaded editor and his belligerentncrony. The newspaper highlighted somenmelodrama about the black flag to be mnnup after any hanging. This hasn’t beenndone for years—in fact this century—innany British or ex-British possession.nWhen Thomas Hardy introduced it tonculminate the pathetic case of Tess of thenD’Urbervilles, he was roundly chastisednfor having indulged in an anachronism.nIn the event, putting his house undernheavy guard, a scared Brathwaite madenoff to Antigua with his attorney general,nleaving behind a tape commuting thendeath sentences. This was fairly contemptuousnand should of course havenbeen done through cabinet and parliament.nIt was also defensive, Brathwaitenmaking a big point of communism beingnin abeyance as moving him to clemency—asnif a crime were not a crime. Thatnhe was flying in the face of public supportnfor the death penalty was clear whennhe admitted: “What appears to be a pop­nular cry may not always be the best coursenfor the country.” And when “Braff”nreturned to his island, he had of coursento commute the death sentences of ninenothers who had nothing whatsoever to donwith the Goards. As the chief justicenhinted, it was a rough-and-ready de factonabolition of the death penalty, andnAmnesty International was jubilant.nBrathwaite’s crony, Scoon, next lockednGrenada into the OEGS (Organizationnof Eastern Caribbean States) SupremenCourt system and rushed through onnJuly 26 an act cited as “The Transfer ofnConvicted Offenders.” Under this act ansentencing country within the Commonwealthnmay, with the convictednoffender’s agreement or request, transfernsuch person to another Commonwealthncountry, which will administer thensentence (or residue of same). Under thisnact the offender may apply for his ornher transfer while being “a national of thenadministering country.” It is hard tonsee this maneuver as anything but a tailor-madenblueprint for Phyllis Coard tonreturn to her influential Leninist friendsnin Jamaica and stir up trouble there.nBy chance I was at school in Englandnwith the son of the famous hangmannPierrepoint, who later dropped JosephnKramer, the infamous “Beast of Belsen.”nTypically curious about grisly affairs of thenilk, we boys were warned by our housemasternnever to mention the matter, andnwe never did. Subsequently, I read thenmemoirs of both Pierrepoint and one ofnhis assistants. The paraphernalia wasnminimal: none of the straitjacket stuffnpublicized by the excitable editor innGrenada, nor the body harness shown innthe film In Cold Blood (it was used, whennit was, for clemency’s sake if anything, tonprevent the body from swinging as itnfell and so effect a clean severance of thensecond from the third vertebra). I don’tnthink that in his whole career Pierrepoint,nwhose name was mischievouslynborrowed by Wyndham Lewis for a characternin The Apes of God, knew a singlenstmggle on the way to the gallows, thoughnone customer fainted with the hood onnhis head. Speed was of the essence in hisnprocedure, and his prison “screws,” ornwarder assistants, were compassionate innthe extreme, even to the point, apparently,nof having to be exchanged by othersnwho had not lived with the prisonernin his last hours, and so developed overtendernsympathies. They invariablynassured their charges, “You won’t feel anthing.” Of course, how did they know?nnnIn the West Indies the hangman isnusually not known, or is imported fromnother islands, often Trinidad, wherenrecently such executioners went on strikenfor extra pay since theirs, they claimed,nwas a specialist occupation. Similarly, itnis not always known that in his day, befejtenhe opened a celebrated pub, Pierrepointnwas merely one of several such expertsnquietly summoned from some ordinarynjob to “give assistance” at WormwoodnScrubs or wherever. He seems to havenseen his job as a necessary sanitary operationnfor the safety of society, to be gotnover with as fast as possible. Indeed,ntoday’s readers of his and others’ memoirsncan hardly help being struck by thencasual, almost lackadaisical nature of his’nletters of assignment. They belong tonanother era, one which the West Indiannislands have chosen to inherit, andnAmnesty International to buck.nGeoffrey Wagner is the son of an erstwhilenPuisne ]udge in the former FMS,nFederated Malay States, a CrownnColony of the same structure as thenex-British West Indian islands. Henhas taught at the John Jay School ofnCriminal Justice in Manhattan.nLetter From thenLower Rightnby John Shelton ReednFight Them on the BeachesnBefore the drive from California to NorthnCarolina that I wrote about last month,nI believed that American regionalism wasnalive and well. Now I damn well know itnis. I’ll tell you what I am worried about,nthough, is England.nNot long ago my wife and I flew directnfrom Charlotte to London. That possibilityndidn’t exist until recently, and I’mnnot sure it’s a good thing for either Charlottenor London that it does now. At thenleast, it’s disconcerting to go direct fromnBilly Graham Boulevard to Victoria Stationnwithout depressurizing. Changingnairports in New York really ought to benpart of European travel, don’t you think?nAnyway, finding ourselves back in Londonnfor the first time in a dozen yearsn(having missed the entire Thatcher era),nMAY 1992 /45n