NEW RESOURCES: BBC Documentary Examines US Capital Punishment System Through the Lethal Injection Issue

The BBC documentary "Lethal Solution" chronicles reporter Vivian White’s exploration of the death penalty in the US through the prism of the lethal injection issue. White traveled across the US to execution chambers where lethal injection executions are carried out and interviewed participants from a wide variety of perspectives.

The documentary features judges, doctors, and men on death row. White interviewed the family of a man whose execution lasted 34 minutes and a lawyer who witnessed that event, vividly recalling the details. He spoke with the doctor who first proposed the lethal injection system, and to the judge in California who recommended that medically-qualified people should be present at executions to ensure a humane death. In the California case, two doctors walked out of the execution chamber when they realized they might have to assist in the killing. The execution was called off.

The full 48-minute documentary may be viewed on the BBC Web site here.

(V. White, “Lethal Solution,” BBC, March 18, 2008; produced by Steven Grandison). See also Lethal Injection and Multimedia.

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NEW RESOURCES: Live Radio Show Covers Issues in Texas Executions

A new radio program, Execution Watch, is providing live coverage and commentary on days that Texas executes a death row inmate. Each show will air live starting at 6 pm Central Daylight Time at or with a wide variety of special guests and host Ray Hill. The programming is available through the Internet.  On its upcoming broadcast, the show will cover issues related to the case of Jeffrey Wood, who is scheduled to be executed on Aug. 21.   Wood was convicted and sentenced to death under Texas' "law of parties" even though he did not participate in the actual murder committed by an accomplice to the robbery. Listeners may find archives of past shows at and find Texas’ execution schedule at (source: producers of Execution Watch, posted Aug. 19, 2008). See New Resources and Multi-media.

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"At the Death House Door" Film Debuts

The highly acclaimed film At the Death House Door premieres on the Independent Film Channel on May 29, 2008. This documentary provides a unique perspective into the people who participate in executions in Huntsville, Texas. Viewers experience what it means to work on death row through the eyes of Pastor Carroll Pickett, who served 15 years as the death house chaplain and presided over 95 executions (including the world’s first lethal injection). Following each execution, Pastor Pickett recorded an audiotape account of his trip to the death chamber. “I knew I had to talk to somebody and the only thing in my house at that time was a tape recorder,” Pickett explained. At the start of his career at the prison, Pickett agreed with the death penalty because of his own grandfather’s murder and the murders of two of his parishioners. “It was a process,” Pickett said of his change to being against the death penalty. “I began to see the system wasn’t working properly,” citing lack of closure for victims, no deterrence of crime, and that sentences were arbitrary. He also believes that some of the men he helped walk to their death were innocent, especially Carlos De Luna, whose case is highlighted in the film. Viewers may see the film on the IFC television channel starting tonight, May 29th, at 9pm.
(F. Lee, “His life with the deaths that the state carried out,” New York Times, May 27, 2008). See Innocence.

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NOW PLAYING IN NY: “The Two Lives of Napoleon Beazley,” a Play by John Fleming

“The Two Lives of Napoleon Beazley” is a new play by John Fleming that explores the true story of a 17-year-old African-American defendant who was sentenced to death for a carjacking and murder in Texas. The victim was the father of a federal judge. Using a variety of factual resources, including court transcripts and media accounts, the play examines race and the criminal justice system before the Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that the death penalty for juveniles violates the Constitution. Beazley was one of the last juvenile offenders executed in the U.S.

The Austin Chronicle writes that “The Two Lives of Napoleon Beazley” is:

The most important play to see in Texas right now.... Voicing all the opposing viewpoints on the issues of racism, judicial nepotism, ageism, and capital punishment, [this play] presents the story dramatically with heartbreaking scenes that are not at all contrived or insincere. Fleming’s well-knit play unfolds effortlessly before us, evoking pathos for injustice.

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VICTIMS: NPR Features Story of a Father Who Forgave His Daughter’s Murderer

National Public Radio (NPR) recently featured a segment in its StoryCorps series in which a father describes how he came to forgive the man who murdered his daughter. Patricia Nuckles was murdered by Ivan Simpson in 2001 when she caught him robbing her home. Though devastated by his daughter’s murder, Hector Black wanted to learn more about his daughter’s killer. He learned that Simpson was born in a mental hospital to a woman who later attempted to drown him and his siblings. Simpson and his brother escaped, but his mother succeeded in killing his sister.

After learning this, Mr. Black and his wife asked the district attorney not to seek the death penalty against Ivan Simpson. At his sentencing, Simpson apologized to Nuckles’ family.

The link below has both the audio and text of Hector Black's statement.
(“Father Finds Peace in Forgiveness,” NPR, Feb. 8, 2008). See Victims, New Voices, and Multi-media.

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NEW RESOURCES: Austrian Cultural Forum in New York Explores Death Penalty Through Art

“Under Pain of Death,” a new exhibition at the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York City, explores the death penalty through various forms of art, focusing particularly on the human emotions involved.  Beginning January 21, 2008, the exhibition offers art installations, film screenings, and lectures on a variety of aspects of the death penalty.

The Austrian Cultural Forum New York is located at:
11 E. 52nd Street
New York, NY 10022.

(Press release, Austrian Cultural Forum, Jan. 2008; posted Jan. 18, 2008).  See also DPIC's Multimedia page.

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