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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Paul Green, May 30, 1975. Interview B-0005-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Fighting for commutations for two condemned men

Green remembers two men sentenced to death and his efforts to win them commutations. He succeeded in one instance and failed in another.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Paul Green, May 30, 1975. Interview B-0005-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACQUELYN HALL:
In your efforts to get people out on parole, did you deal with Edwin Gill when he was Commissioner of Paroles?
PAUL GREEN:
Yes, that's right.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was he helpful to you at all? What kind of person was he?
PAUL GREEN:
Not too much. Well, I was in Hollywood once and a fellow named Spice Bittings killed his landlord over here at Oxford and his wife wrote to me, and Elizabeth got in touch with me and I couldn't come back, so I got her to work on it all she could. But we couldn't do anything, he was executed. Oh, there are so many cases where you see this … there's a fellow … let me think what his name was. Well anyway, a few years ago, his mother came to see me and she said, "They've got Robert over there and they are going to execute him for raping a girl at Salisbury." I said, "All right, I'll do what I can." I went over to see Robert, they used to let me go into the death row to see my friends, but they brought him out this time to an anteroom and in chains. A little tiny fellow. He was supposed to have raped a girl at Salisbury six times in an hour, or something like that. Well, we got busy and somehow we saved his life and it's a long story, but we got the governor to commute him to life. Every Christmas, I get a card from Robert. Christmas before last, he told me that he had been promoted to head of the bakery. He never went to school, they were poor and he was just illiterate, a mill guy and so I always send him a Christmas card and so this Christmas, my card was returned with just one word written across it, "Escaped." [Laughter]