When a Killer Wants to Die

Death-row volunteers press for their own speedy executions. Should states oblige them?

For someone who killed with such ease, Michael Ross is finding it very hard to die. The bespectacled insurance salesman from Connecticut who murdered eight young women a generation ago has languished on death row since 1987. For much of that time, he has been begging the state to execute him. But in a region that hasn't put anyone to death in almost 45 years, Ross can't seem to prevail.

A sentence of death and a killer ready to die would seem a perfect partnership. With condemned inmates around the country spending an average of 10 years wading through appeals, both...