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RIP Jan Michael Brawner Jr.

3:45 PM

When I was at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, I was housed for quite some time with the guys on death row. I don't think there was anyone I was closer to on the row than Jan Michael Brawner, Jr., whom we knew as JB. He called me his Little Bro and I called him my Big Bro. And as I'm writing this, I've heard them announce on the radio that he was pronounced dead. My Big Bro was executed by the State of Mississippi's murder machine.

What I'd like to know is...just what was accomplished by murdering JB? Was justice served? Does anyone feel a sense of closure or satisfaction now that he's dead? And if so, what kind of psychological mindset does a person have to possess to feel satisfied at the death of another person? But I'm not writing to debate these things here. I'm here to remember JB.

Through the years, I have refrained from asking people about the crimes they were sentenced for. I figure that they have already been judged for whatever it is and I don't have any need to know about it. So, instead of regurgitating what the media has forcefed you, let me tell you about the JB that I knew. Let me tell you about my Big Bro.

When I first met JB in C-building of MSP's Unit 32, he had already known of me through mutual friends. I don't associate with many people unless I've been around them for awhile, but I made an exception with JB because others were vouching for him. We shared common interests like reading, especially the science fiction and fantasy genres. The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind was his favorite, whereas the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan is mine. This brought about an interesting discussion because I said that Goodkind plagiarized Jordan's ideas. JB was determined to find out the truth...and judging by copyrights and dates, I was right. That was one of the many things about JB that I respected- if he was wrong, he could admit it.

If JB borrowed something from someone, even if it was just a pack of salt, he was sure to repay it. If he could help someone, he would. JB cared and was a loyal friend, a loving son and brother, and it bothered him he couldn't do much for his mom, brother, sister. I've seen him humble himself, apologize to people and ask them to forgive him.

How many people who hate JB are professing Christians? What an ironic thing- the very ones reveling in his death are those who pay lip service to the doctrine of love. JB didn't fear death; he was at peace and knows who his Savior is. JB is a true Christian, I'm glad to have been able to encourage him in his faith, and I'm proud to call him my Big Bro. Matthew 25: 31-46 is an apt passage. Are you a sheep or goat?

JB's last words to me were a prayer for me and the ones I love... The world is worse-off for losing JB and I'll miss my Big Bro, but I look forward to seeing him again one day.

-In memory of Jan Michael Brawner, Jr. June 10, 1978 - June 12, 2012

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About Me

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Steven Farris is a prisoner who has been incarcerated since a month after his 16th birthday in 1998. Currently serving a life sentence without the possibility for parole, he is seeking to educate the public about the true nature of prison and the widespread and negative effects of the prison industrial complex. Steven has worked with both the National Prison Project of the ACLU, as well as the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in furthering this effort.

You can contact him directly at:
Steven Farris #R5580
P.O. Box 1889
Woodville, MS 39669-1889

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