Doil Edward Lane shuffles into the small cage that is the visiting room for death row inmates at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston. His head hangs down as he turns to let the guards remove his handcuffs. When he looks up, his eyes are red, his cheeks splotchy and wet. He crinkles up his face, picks up the telephone that allows him to talk with the visitors on the other side of the window, and says, "It's hard to talk about." So hard, in fact, that Lane sets down the phone, puts his face in his hands, and cries.
Lane is weeping not because he is facing execution, nor even because of his incarceration on death row. He's broken-hearted because prison officials have moved him to another cellblock -- away from his best friend, Marion. Now he has no one to talk to, no one to read and write letters for him. "I really miss him," Lane says more than once, whining like a 7-year-old whose best friend just moved out of town. He cries intermittently, and then asks, "Do you want to see a picture I drew?" When he's sure no guard is watching, he pulls from the waistband of his pants a pencil drawing of his two best friends, Marion Dudley and Leo Little. Lane says Dudley is the only other inmate who will take the time to read and explain things to him. Little helped Lane get books from the prison library -- not books to read (Lane is essentially illiterate), but books with good pictures so that Lane could look at them, trace the images, and color them in with his pencils. His favorite book is The Apple Tree. "It has really good pictures," he says.
Doil Lane is mentally retarded; doctors believe his brain may have been deprived of oxygen during his birth. His biological father was 74 years old and died shortly after Lane was born. His mother and her new husband neglected him, and later abused him both psychologically and sexually. Lane was placed in special-education classes at school, and consistently did poorly there. Eventually the state of Kansas stepped in, removed him from his home and sent him to the Brown School in San Marcos, a residential treatment center for children with developmental disabilities. Testing from his time at the Brown School, and later for his appeals, shows that his intellectual functioning is significantly impaired, that his full scale IQ is 65-67 -- among the lowest 1% of the population -- and that his mental and emotional development is that of an 8- to 10-year-old child. (More)