"At the Death House Door" Airs Tonight

At the Death House Door airs tonight at 9:00 pm ET on IFC, the Independent Film Channel: It is the story of a minister to death row inmates in Texas, who became convinced that the risk that even one innocent person will be executed justifies abandoning capital punishment.

One person who shares such a conviction is Carroll Pickett, minister to death row inmates at a penitentiary in Texas; for 15 years, Pickett had no reservations about presiding over executions, until that fateful day when his path crossed with that of a Hispanic man named Carlos de Luna, unjustly accused of homicide.

Shortly before this - his 96th official execution - was to occur, Pickett tape recorded much of his last day with de Luna. Listening to it, he became unshakably convinced of the man's innocence, and used his inner conviction as an impetus to team up with crime reporters from the Chicago Tribune and delve into the facts surrounding De Luna's highly questionable arraignment. With their documentary At the Death House Door, James and Gilbert both tell Pickett's heart-rending story and use it as a springboard into broader penetrative issues about capital punishment.


A sample review:

It is simply the up-front and very personal journey of Pastor Carroll Pickett, interwoven with the Chicago Tribune's investigative report on the case for innocence of executed prisoner, Carlos De Luna.... The direct experience of Pastor Pickett is unassailable by execution enthusiasts. This film is about his experiences, in his own words. He does not claim to be an academic, attorney or statistician. He simply relates his experience as pastor of a Huntsville congregation that underwent the tragedy of murder and as spiritual advisor to 95 people killed in the Texas Death Chamber, including Carlos De Luna.... [who may have been innocent]

It is worth noting that spokesmen for state killings are already working to lessen the impact of this powerful film. They are attempting to "frame the debate" around disputes about numbers, instead of the very real impact of these killings on those involved... and on our collective humanity."

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    Don't know if I can bear to watch. (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Joan in VA on Thu May 29, 2008 at 01:09:44 PM EST
    Opened my paper yesterday to find that we had executed a guy with an I.Q. below 70. His defense said he was retarded but the court seemed to think that he functioned well enough. Not that that matters-the death penalty is wrong for anyone.

    Just so wrong (none / 0) (#8)
    by ruffian on Thu May 29, 2008 at 01:57:21 PM EST
    And it disturbs me that capital punishment is barely even brought up as a political issue anymore.  Dems have given up on it.

    The last sentence in the review in Jeralyn's post is correct - what does it say about our collective humanity that we can even contemplate such things, much less carry them out?


    I wonder how much it costs, on average, (none / 0) (#1)
    by sarissa on Thu May 29, 2008 at 01:04:47 PM EST
    to execute a convict these days? I imagine it's a bonafide bonanza for the JD crowd.  

    There is just no excuse for government sanctioned homocide any more - not with the expense and not with completely viable alternatives.  I'm just waiting for DNA or something similarly incontravertible to completely exonerate someone executed one of these days so that the death penalty can be retired permanently.

    What? (none / 0) (#4)
    by Emma on Thu May 29, 2008 at 01:12:36 PM EST
    I imagine it's a bonafide bonanza for the JD crowd.

    What does this mean?


    There has been research in this area. (none / 0) (#7)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu May 29, 2008 at 01:28:04 PM EST
    The number that many from both sides of the argument seem to (grudgingly) accept is that 23 innocents have been executed between 1900 and 1987, 1987 being the publication date of the Hugo Bedau and Michael Radelet study.

    How many people have been murdered in that same time frame by convicted-but-not-executed murderers?


    How many (none / 0) (#10)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu May 29, 2008 at 02:26:20 PM EST
    An excellent question.  Although the opponents of capital punishment seem to care not a fig how many innocents will be gruesomely murdered by letting convicted murderers live longer.

    Better to let 1,000 innocents die through inaction than one die through action.  

    "Allen deserves capital punishment because he was already serving a life sentence for murder when he masterminded the murders of three innocent young people and conspired to attack the heart of our criminal justice system," state prosecutor Ward Campbell said.



    It's not that I don't care.... (none / 0) (#11)
    by kdog on Thu May 29, 2008 at 03:33:27 PM EST
    about murder victims, I just see a disticntion betwen murder by a crazed individual and murder by a faceless bueracracy.  One I can deal with as the gamble of living on planet earth with fellow human beings, the other I just can't stomach.

    I'm fine with the father of a murder victim getting justice by killing the murderer, I'd never vote to convict that father in such an instance.  But I'm far from fine with the state killing people, because the state f*cks up way too often.  Better not to give the state that power.

    If that makes any sense...


    Letting a mad dog loose (none / 0) (#13)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu May 29, 2008 at 06:19:12 PM EST

    One that lets a mad dog loose is responsible for the results.

    LWOP.... (none / 0) (#25)
    by kdog on Fri May 30, 2008 at 09:38:35 AM EST
    works better...that way if it is discovered that the mad dog isn't a mad dog at all, just a victim of circumstance or a mad dog prosecutor, we can rectify the error.

    Huh. Just googled (none / 0) (#30)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri May 30, 2008 at 02:05:23 PM EST
     "LWOP kill murder prison guard." Found lotsa pro-DP blogs out there.

    Anyway, if you could guarantee me that convicted murderers on LWOP could not murder again, I might be more open to it.

    From one of those pro-DP blogs, no guarantee of accuracy:

    * Some 80 years ago, Charles Fitzgerald killed a deputy sheriff and was given a 100-year prison sentence as a result. He was released after serving just 11 years, and in 1926 murdered a California policeman. He was given "life" for that killing, but was paroled in 1971.

    • In 1931, "Gypsy" Bob Harper, who had been convicted of murder, escaped from a Michigan prison and killed two persons. After being recaptured, he then killed the prison warden and his deputy.

    • In 1936, former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover reported the case of a Florida prisoner who committed two murders, received clemency for each, and then murdered twice more. On March 17, 1971 Hoover told a congressional subcommittee that 19 of the killers responsible for the murder of policemen during the 1960s had been previously convicted of murder.

    • In 1951, Joseph Taborsky was sentenced to death in Connecticut for murder, but was freed when the courts ruled that the chief witness against him (his brother) had been mentally incompetent to testify. In 1957, Taborsky was found guilty for another murder, for which he was electrocuted in May 1960. Before his execution, he confessed to the 1951 murder.

    • In 1952, Allen Pruitt was arrested for the knife slaying of a newsstand operator and sentenced to life in prison. In 1965, he was charged with fatally stabbing a prison doctor and an assistant prison superintendent, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity. In 1968, his 1952 conviction was overturned on a technicality by the Virginia Supreme Court. He was re-tried, again found guilty, but given a 20-year sentence instead of life. Since he had already served 18 years, and had some time off for "good behavior," he was released. On December 31, 1971 he was arrested and charged in the murder of two men in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

    • In 1957, Richard Biegenwald murdered a store owner during a robbery in New Jersey. He was convicted, but given a life sentence rather than death. After serving 17 years, he was paroled. He violated his parole, was returned to prison, but was again paroled in 1980, after which he shot and killed an 18-year-old Asbury Park, New Jersey girl. He also killed three other 17-year-old New Jersey girls and a 34-year-old man.

    • A man convicted of murder in Oklahoma pleaded with the judge and jury to impose the death sentence, but was given life instead. He later killed a fellow inmate and was executed for the second killing in 1966.

    • In 1972, Arthur James Julius was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. In 1978, he was given a brief leave from prison, during which he raped and murdered a cousin. He was sentenced to death for that crime and was executed on November 17, 1989.

    • In 1976, Jimmy Lee Gray (who was free on parole from an Arizona conviction for killing a 16-year-old high school girl) kidnapped, sodomized, and suffocated a three-year-old Mississippi girl. He was executed for that second killing on September 2, 1983.

    • Also in 1976, Timothy Charles Palmes was on probation for an earlier manslaughter conviction when he and two accomplices robbed and brutally murdered a Florida furniture store owner. Palmes was executed for the killing on November 8, 1984. An accomplice, Ronald Straight, was executed on May 20, 1986. (The other accomplice, a woman, was granted immunity for testifying for the prosecution.)

    • In 1978, Wayne Robert Felde, while being taken to jail in handcuffs, pulled a gun hidden in his pants and killed a policeman. At the time, he was a fugitive from a work release program in Maryland, where he had been convicted of manslaughter.

    • In 1979, Donald Dillbeck was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison for murdering a Florida sheriffs deputy. In 1983, he tried to escape. In January of this year he was transferred to a minimum-security facility. On June 22nd, he walked away from a ten-inmate crew catering a school banquet. Two days later, he was arrested and charged with stabbing a woman to death at a Tallahassee shopping mall.

    • In 1981, author Norman Mailer and many other New York literati embraced convicted killer Jack Henry Abbott (who had murdered a fellow prison inmate) and succeeded in having him released early from a Utah prison. On July 18, 1981 (six-weeks after his release), Abbott stabbed actor Richard Adan to death in New York. He was convicted of manslaughter and received a 15-year-to-life sentence. Mrs. Adan sued Abbott for her husband's wrongful death and her pain and suffering. On June 15, 1990, a jury awarded her nearly $7.6 million.

    • On October 22, 1983 at the federal penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, two prison guards were murdered in two separate instances by inmates who were both serving life terms for previously murdering inmates. On November 9, 1983 Associate U.S. Attorney General D. Lowell Jensen told a Senate subcommittee that it is impossible to punish or even deter such prison murders because, without a death sentence, a violent life-termer has free rein "to continue to murder as opportunity and his perverse motives dictate."

    • On December 7, 1984 Benny Lee Chaffin kidnapped, raped, and murdered a 9-year-old Springfield, Oregon girl. He had been convicted of murder once before in Texas, but not executed. Incredibly, the same jury that convicted him for killing the young girl refused to sentence him to death because two of the 12 jurors said they could not determine whether or not he would be a future threat to society!

    • Thomas Eugene Creech, who had been convicted of three murders and had claimed a role in more than 40 killings in 13 states as a paid killer for a motorcycle gang, killed a fellow prison inmate in 1981 and was sentenced to death. In 1986 his execution was stayed by a federal judge and has yet to be carried out.

    • When he was 14, Dalton Prejean killed a taxi driver. When he was 17, he gunned down a state trooper in Lafayette, Louisiana. Despite protests from the American Civil Liberties Union and other abolitionist groups, Prejean was executed for the second murder on May 18, 1990.

    Another Occam's primitive (none / 0) (#26)
    by jondee on Fri May 30, 2008 at 12:22:41 PM EST
    battle ax soloution from the boys on the Right side of the aisle. At least they're consistent.

    Nevr mind seriously addressing the roots of the problem of violence in America; the very idea is socialistic and what just amount to throwing money at the problem -- money better thrown at regime change and into offshore tax shelters -- all you all bleedin' hearts need to know is that if it wasnt for capital punishment we'd have even MORE killings than we do now; and, if it werent for long term incarceration, even more attempted murders, kidnappings, bank robberies, drug trafficing etc etc and, instead of the U.S being the free-est, most magical, most wonderfulest place this side of Pirate Island, we'd be well on our way to looking like just another South American dystopia. So quit whining and start calling your legislators so we can get going with building more prisons -- in a non-socialistic kinda way, (preferably privatley owned, with special tax breaks for the contractors), or maybe just start thinking about surrounding your property with razor wire.


    not to be nit picky, (none / 0) (#12)
    by cpinva on Thu May 29, 2008 at 06:07:24 PM EST
    but you assume, had he already been sentenced to death, he wouldn't have had those other people killed, just out of vengeance or something.

    No. (none / 0) (#14)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu May 29, 2008 at 06:21:04 PM EST
    I assume that if he were put to death those other lives would be saved.

    Yes, that's how I classify it. (none / 0) (#17)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu May 29, 2008 at 07:24:43 PM EST
    I'm for the least number of innocents murdered. Period. Who done it is much less important, imo, than it itself.

    Why is it (none / 0) (#27)
    by jondee on Fri May 30, 2008 at 12:29:07 PM EST
    that whenever the topic of all the "innocents" forced to grow up in veritable warzones in the U.S
    comes up, you guys generally grow as quiet as the dead calm before the cyclone hits?

    Of course, they should all be forced to learn from their poor life choices, I suppose. Bill Buckley always used to say it builds character.


    All these Mag Dogs (none / 0) (#28)
    by jondee on Fri May 30, 2008 at 12:37:51 PM EST
    need is to channel their aggressions better; maybe in a little place nestled near the Tigris and Euphrates especially selected by Don Cheney and Don Bush.

    Mad Dogs (none / 0) (#29)
    by jondee on Fri May 30, 2008 at 12:40:23 PM EST
    Teri Gross interviewed the pastor (none / 0) (#2)
    by hitchhiker on Thu May 29, 2008 at 01:09:01 PM EST
    on May 19th, available at the NPR Fresh Air podcast collection.  Amazing conversation, very disturbing.

    Too bad.... (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Thu May 29, 2008 at 01:23:27 PM EST
    every used up all there outrage....we could use soom directed at Texas-style "justice".

    I'm not even high yet.... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Thu May 29, 2008 at 01:25:01 PM EST
    s/b everybody used up all their outrage, we could use some directed at Texas-style "justice".



    I mean, I'm assuming it wouldn't fly, but am I correct, or is Death Penalty support droppin to the dgree that we could reattach the Death Penalty plank to the party platform (dropped I think in 1992?), would it be too weak on terror? Could Obama effectively spin a moratorium based on "what he saw in Illinois?" Because while, I'm already a pretty strong Obama supporter, I think that could win some votes (though it'd probably lose some as well, hence my question).

    Not Likely Part of the Platform (none / 0) (#16)
    by CoralGables on Thu May 29, 2008 at 07:21:54 PM EST
    As someone that has been adamantly against capital punishment since 1975, and never hesitant to discuss it, I would say public opinion is glacially moving in the direction of banning capital punishment.

    When it happens, it will likely be a whirlwind ending. It will be legislated out by a very close vote, with the signature of a supporting president serving his or her very successful second term, thereby catching us up with most of the civilized world. I don't expect it to be part of a platform but rather more of an epiphany that ultimately brings the barbaric practice to an end.

    We may have a few more states endorse a moratorium helping lead the way before a total ban. I look forward with hope to the total ban happening in my lifetime.


    Well (none / 0) (#20)
    by Steve M on Thu May 29, 2008 at 09:09:49 PM EST
    I don't think Congress has the authority to ban the states from employing capital punishment.  Only the Supreme Court could do that, if it wanted to rule as a matter of constitutional law.

    Maybe Not (none / 0) (#22)
    by CoralGables on Thu May 29, 2008 at 10:17:55 PM EST
    Since the Supreme Court is nowhere near a blanket ban based on cruel and unusual punishment, wouldn't a legislative approach be the only way to accomplish it quickly? The federal government could theoretically pass a ban that would then have to be challenged by individual states if they wanted to override it.

    For a blanket ban I would think this would be the means to the end...and far faster than a state by state approach which could take another 200 years. Rather than be in the top 5 countries that execute people we could join the 135 that don't.


    Can Rev. Carroll Pickett be trusted (none / 0) (#18)
    by dudleysharp on Thu May 29, 2008 at 07:46:02 PM EST
    Can Rev. Carroll Pickett be trusted "At the Death House Door"?
    Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below

    Rev. Pickett is on a promotional tour for the anti death penalty film "At the Death House Door". It is partially about the Reverend's experience ministering to 95 death row inmates executed in Texas.

    Rev. Pickett's inaccuracies are many and important.  

    Does Rev. Pickett just make facts up as he goes along, hoping that no one fact checks, or is he just confused or ignorant?

    Some of his miscues are common anti death penalty deceptions. The reverend is an anti death penalty activist.

    Below are comments or paraphrases of Rev. Pickett, taken from interviews, followed by my Reply:.

    1) Pickett:  I knew (executed inmate) Carlos (De Luna) didn't do it. It was his big brown eyes, the way he talked, he was the same age as my son (transference). I felt so sympathetic towards him. I was  so 100% certain that he couldn't have committed this crime. (Carlos) was a super person to minister to.  I knew Carlos was not guilty. Fred Allen a guard, said "by the way he talks and acts I don't believe he is guilty, either. (1)

    REPLY: Experienced prison personnel are fooled all the time by prisoners, just as parole boards are. This is simply Rev. Pickett's and Fred Allen's blind speculation and nothing more.

    More than that, it appears that Rev. Pickett is, now, either lying about his own opinions or he is very confused. Read on.

    2) Pickett: believes that, no way, could someone, so afraid of lightning and thunder, such as Carlos De Luna,  use a knife (in a crime). (1)

    Reply: Rev. Pickett talks about how important his background is in  understanding  people and behavior and he says something like this, destroying his own credibility on the issue.  If the lightning and thunder event occurred, we already know what De Luna was capable of. In 1980, "De Luna was charged with attempted aggravated rape and driving a stolen vehicle, he pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 2 to 3 years. Paroled in May 1982, De Luna returned to Corpus Christi. Not long after, he attended a party for a former cellmate and was accused of attacking the cellmate's 53-year-old mother. She told police that De Luna broke three of her ribs with one punch, removed her underwear, pulled down his pants, then suddenly left. He was never prosecuted for the attack, but authorities sent him back to prison on a parole violation. Released again in December of that year, he came back to Corpus Christi and got a job as a concrete worker.  Almost immediately, he was arrested for public intoxication. During the arrest, De Luna allegedly laughed about the wounding of a police officer months earlier and said the officer should have been killed.  Two weeks after that arrest, Lopez was murdered." (Chicago Tribune) Being a long time criminal, we can presume that there were numerous additional crimes committed by De Luna and which remained unsolved. Was De Luna capable of committing a robbery murder, even though he had big brown eyes and was scared of lightning? Of course. This goes to Rev. Pickett's poor judgement or something else.

    There is this major problem.

    In 1999, 4 years after Rev. Pickett had left his death row ministry, and he had become an anti death penalty activist, and 10 years after De Luna's execution, the reverend was asked, in a PBS Frontline interview, "Do you think there have been some you have watched die who were strictly innocent?"

    His reply:   "I never felt that." (3)

    For many years, and since the 1989 execution of Carlos De Luna, the reverend never felt that any of the 95 executed were actually innocent.

    This directly conflicts with his current statements on Carlos De Luna. Rev. Pickett is, now, saying that he was 100% sure of De Luna's innocence in 1989!

    If he was 100% sure of DeLuna's execution in 1989, what's up with the PBS interview?.

    When is the first confirmable date that Rev. Pickett stated he believed in DeLunas' actual innocence?

    It appears the reverend has either revised history to support his new anti death penalty activism  - he's lying -  or he is, again, very confused. Reverend?

    3) Introduction: In 1974, prison librarian Judy Standley and teacher Von Beseda were murdered during an 11 day prison siege and escape attempt. Ignacio Cuevas was sentenced to death, as one of three prisoners who were involved.  The other two died in the shootout.

    Ms. Standley and Ms. Beseda were part of Rev. Pickett's congregation, outside of prison.

    Pickett: After Cuevas was executed, Rev. Pickett alleges that he met with Judy Standley's family and they told the reverend that "This (the execution) didn't bring closure." "This didn't help us." According to Rev. Pickett, "They didn't want him (Ignacio Cuevas) executed." (1)

    Reply; There might be a big problem. Judy Standley's five children wrote a statement, before the execution, which stated: "We are relieved the ordeal may almost be over, but we are also aware that to some, this case represents only one of many in which, arguably, `justice delayed is justice denied," "We are hopeful the sentence will finally be carried out and that justice will at last be served," said the statement, signed by Ty, Dru, Mark, Pam and Stuart Standley. (4)

    Sure seemed like the kids wanted Cuevas to be executed. Doesn't it? Reverend?

    4) Pickett: "A great majority of them (the 95 executed inmates he ministered to) were black or Hispanic." (1)

    Reply: The reverend's point, here, is to emphasize the alleged racist nature of the death penalty. There is a problem for the reverend - the facts - the "great majority" were 47 white (49%) with 32 black (34%),  and 16 Hispanic (17%).  

    5) Pickett: "Out of the 95 we executed only one that had a college degree.  All the rest of them their education was 9th grade and under." (1)

    Reply: Not even close. Rev. Pickett's point, here, seems to be that capital murderers are, almost all, idiots who can't be held responsible for their actions. But, there are more fact problems for the reverend. In a review of only 31 of the 95 cases, 5 had some college or post graduate classes and 16 were high school graduates or completed their GED. Partial review (Incomplete Count) , below.

    Would Rev. Pickett tell us about the educational achievements of all the true innocent murder victims and those that weren't old enough for school?

    6) Pickett: spoke of the Soldier of Fortune murder for hire case, stating the husband got the death penalt, while the hired murderer got 6 years. (1)

    Reply: Rev. Pickett's point, here, was the unfairness of the sentence disparity. More fact problems. John Wayne Hearn, the hitman, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Sandra Black.

    7) Pickett: speaks of how sincere hostage taker, murderer Ignacio Cuevas was. Rev. Pickett states that "between 11 and midnight  (I) believe almost everything" the inmates say, because they are about to be executed. (1)

    Reply: Bad judgement. Minutes later, Cuevas lied when on the gurney, stating that he was innocent.  This goes to show how Rev. Pickett and many others are easily fooled by these murderers. Pickett concedes the point.

    8) Pickett:  "In my opinion and in the opinion of the convicts, life in prison, with no hope of parole, is a much worse punishment (than the death penalty)." "Most of these people (death row inmates) fear life in prison more than they do the possibility of execution." (2)

    REPLY: More fact problems. We know that isn't the opinion of those facing a possible death sentence of those residing on death row.  This gives more support to my suspicion that Rev. Pickett is putting words into the inmates' mouths.

    Facts: What percentage of capital murderers seek a plea bargain to a death sentence, rather than seeking a life sentence? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment. What percentage of convicted capital murderers argue for execution in the penalty phase of their capital trial? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.  What percentage of death row inmates waive their appeals and speed up the execution process? Nearly zero (less than 2%). They prefer long term imprisonment. This is not, even remotely, in dispute. How could Rev. Pickett not be aware of this? How long was he ministering to Texas' death row? 13 years?

    9) Pickett: stated that "doctors can't (check the veins of inmates pending execution), it's against the law." (1)

    Reply: Ridiculous. Obviously untrue.

    10) Pickett:  Pavulon (a paralytic) has been banned by vets but we use it on people. (1)

    REPLY: This is untrue and is a common anti death penalty deception. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) stetes, "When used alone, these drugs (paralytics) all cause respiratory arrest before loss of consciousness, so the animal may perceive pain and distress after it is immobilized." Obviously, paralytics are never used alone in the human lethal injection process or animal euthanasia. The AVMA does not mention the specific paralytic - Pavulon - used in lethal injection for humans. These absurd claims, falsely attributed to veterinary literature,  have been a bald faced lie by anti death penalty activists.  

    In Belgium and the Netherlands, their euthanasia protocol is as follows: A coma is first induced by intravenous administration of 20 mg/kg sodium thiopental (Nesdonal) (NOTE-the first drug in human lethal injection) in a small volume (10 ml physiological saline). Then a triple intravenous dose of a non-depolarizing neuromuscular muscle relaxant is given, such as 20 mg pancuronium bromide (Pavulon) (NOTE-the second drug, the paralytic, in human lethal injection) or 20 mg vecuronium bromide (Norcuron). The muscle relaxant should preferably be given intravenously, in order to ensure optimal availability (NOTE: as in human lethal injection). Only for pancuronium bromide (Pavulon) are there substantial indications that the agent may also be given intramuscularly in a dosage of 40 mg. (NOTE: That is how effective the second drug in human lethal injection is, that it can be given intramuscularly and still hasten death).

    Just like execution/lethal injection in the US, although we give a third drug which speeds up death, even more.

    11) Pickett: "Most of the inmates would ask the question, "How can Texas kill people who kill people and tell people that killing people is wrong?" That came out of inmates' mouths regularly and I think it's a pretty good question to ask." (2)

    REPLY: Most? Would that be more than 47 out of 95? I simply don't believe it. 10 out of 95? Doubtful. I suspect it is no coincidence that "Why do we kill people to show that killing is wrong" has been a common anti death penalty slogan for a very long time. I suspect that Rev. Pickett has just picked it up, used it and placed it in inmate's mouths. Furthermore, we don't execute murderers to show that murder is wrong. Most folks know that murder is wrong even without a sanction.

    12) Pickett: said an inmate said "its burning" "its burning", during an execution. (1)

    REPLY: This may have occurred for a variety of reasons and does not appear to be an issue. It is the third drug which is noted for a burning sensation, if one were conscious during its injection. However, none of the inmates that Rev. Pickett handled were conscious after the first drug was administered. That would not be the case, here, as the burning complaints came at the very beginning of the injection process, which would involve a reaction where the burning would be quite minor. Has Rev. Pickett reviewed the pain and suffering of the real victims -  the innocent murdered ones?

    Bottom line.  Reverend Pickett's credibility is as high as a snakes belly.

    Time to edit the movie?!


    Incomplete count
    this is a review of 31 out of the 95 death row inmates ministered by Rev. Pickett

    21 of the 31 below had some college or post graduate classes (5)
    or were high school graduates or completed their GED (16)

    1. Brooks 12
    2. O'Bryan post graduate degree - dentist
    41 james russel  10th
    42 G Green  sophomore college
    45 David Clark 10th and GED
    46 Edward  Ellis 10th
    47 Billy White  10th
    48 Justin May 11th
    49  Jesus Romero 11th and GED
    50  Robert Black, Jr.   a pilot (probably beyond 12th)
    55. Carlos Santana 11th
    57 Darryl Stewart  12th
    58 Leonel Herrera 11th and GED
    1. Markum Duff Smith  Post graduate College
    2. Carlos De Luna 9th
    95 Ronald Keith Allridge 10th and GED
    93 Noble Mays Junior in College
    92 Samuel Hawkins 12th
    91  Billy Conn Gardner 12th
    90 Jeffery Dean Motley 9th
    89 Willie Ray Williams 11th
    86 Jesse Jacobs  12th
    85 Raymond Carl Kinnamon 11th and GED
    84 Herman Clark  sophomore college
    83 Warren Eugene Bridge  11th
    82 Walter Key Williams 12th
    72 Harold Barnard 12th
    73  Freddie Webb 11th and GED
    75 Larry Anderson 12th
    77 Stephen Nethery 12th
    79 Robert Drew  10th

    Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
    e-mail  sharpjfa@aol.com,  713-622-5491,
    Houston, Texas

    Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

    A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

    Pro death penalty sites  


    yesdeathpenalty.googlepages.com/home2   (Sweden)

    1. "Chaplain Discusses 'Death House' Ministry", Interview, Legal Affairs, FRESH AIR, NPR, May 19, 2007.


    3) "The Execution: Interview with Reverend Carroll Pickett", PBS, FRONTLINE, 1999

    4) "Appellate court refuses to stay killer's execution", Kathy Fair, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, Section A, Page 1, 2 Star edition, 05/23/1991

    The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents (none / 0) (#19)
    by dudleysharp on Thu May 29, 2008 at 07:47:20 PM EST
    The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents
    Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below

    Often, the death penalty dialogue gravitates to the subject of innocents at risk of execution. Seldom is a more common problem reviewed. That is, how innocents are more at risk without the death penalty.
    Living murderers, in prison, after release or escape or after our failures to incarcerate them, are much more likely to harm and murder, again, than are executed murderers.
    This is a truism.
    No knowledgeable and honest party questions that the death penalty has the most extensive due process protections in US criminal law.

    Therefore, actual innocents are more likely to be sentenced to life imprisonment and more likely to die in prison serving under that sentence, that it is that an actual innocent will be executed.
    That is. logically, conclusive.
    16 recent studies, inclusive of their defenses,  find for death penalty deterrence.
    A surprise? No.

    Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.
    Some believe that all studies with contrary findings negate those 16 studies. They don't. Studies which don't find for deterrence don't say no one is deterred, but that they couldn't measure those deterred.
    What prospect of a negative outcome doesn't deter some? There isn't one . . . although committed anti death penalty folk may say the death penalty is the only one.
    However, the premier anti death penalty scholar accepts it as a given that the death penalty is a deterrent, but does not believe it to be a greater deterrent than a life sentence. Yet, the evidence is  compelling and un refuted  that death is feared more than life.

    "This evidence greatly unsettles moral objections to the death penalty, because it suggests that a refusal to impose that penalty condemns numerous innocent people to death." (1)
    " . . . a serious commitment to the sanctity of human life may well compel, rather than forbid, (capital) punishment." (1)

    "Recent evidence suggests that capital punishment may have a significant deterrent effect, preventing as many as eighteen or more murders for each execution." (1)
    Some death penalty opponents argue against death penalty deterrence, stating that it's a harsher penalty to be locked up without any possibility of getting out.
    Reality paints a very different picture.
    What percentage of capital murderers seek a plea bargain to a death sentence? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.
    What percentage of convicted capital murderers argue for execution in the penalty phase of their capital trial? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.
    What percentage of death row inmates waive their appeals and speed up the execution process? Nearly zero. They prefer long term imprisonment.
    This is not, even remotely, in dispute.
    Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.
    Furthermore, history tells us that "lifers" have many ways to get out: Pardon, commutation, escape, clerical error, change in the law, etc.

    In choosing to end the death penalty, or in choosing not implement it, some have chosen to spare murderers at the cost of sacrificing more innocent lives.
    Furthermore, possibly we have sentenced 20-25 actually innocent people to death since 1973, or 0.3% of those so sentenced. Those have all been released upon post conviction review. The anti death penalty claims, that the numbers are significantly higher, are a fraud, easily discoverable by fact checking.

    6 inmates have been released from death row because of DNA evidence.  An additional 9 were released from prison, because of DNA exclusion, who had previously been sentenced to death.

    The innocents deception of death penalty opponents has been getting exposure for many years. Even the behemoth of anti death penalty newspapers -- The New York Times -- has recognized that deception.

    "To be sure, 30 or 40 categorically innocent people have been released from death row . . . ". ' (2) This when death penalty opponents were claiming the release of 119 "innocents" from death row. Death penalty opponents never required actual innocence in order for cases to be added to their "exonerated" or "innocents" list. They simply invented their own definitions for exonerated and innocent and deceptively shoe horned large numbers of inmates into those definitions - something easily discovered with fact checking.

    There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since 1900.

    If we accept that the best predictor of future performance is past performance, we can reasonable conclude that the DNA cases will be excluded prior to trial, and that for the next 8000 death sentences, that we will experience a 99.8% accuracy rate in actual guilt convictions. This improved accuracy rate does not include the many additional safeguards that have been added to the system, over and above DNA testing.

    Of all the government programs in the world, that put innocents at risk, is there one with a safer record and with greater protections than the US death penalty?
    Full report -  All Innocence Issues: The Death Penalty, upon request.

    Full report - The Death Penalty as a Deterrent, upon request
    (1) From the Executive Summary of
    Is Capital Punishment Morally Required? The Relevance of Life-Life Tradeoffs, March 2005
    Prof. Cass R. Sunstein,   Cass_Sunstein(AT)law.uchicago.edu
     Prof. Adrian Vermeule ,   avermeule(AT)law.harvard.edu
    Full report           http://aei-brookings.org/admin/authorpdfs/page.php?id=1131
    (2) "The Death of Innocents': A Reasonable Doubt",
    New York Times Book Review, p 29, 1/23/05, Adam Liptak,
    national legal correspondent for The NY Times

    Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
    e-mail  sharpjfa@aol.com,  713-622-5491,
    Houston, Texas
    Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.
    A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.
    Pro death penalty sites 


    yesdeathpenalty.googlepages.com/home2   (Sweden)

    Permission for distribution of this document, in whole or in part,  is approved with proper attribution.

    Innocent death and murder (none / 0) (#21)
    by diogenes on Thu May 29, 2008 at 09:20:01 PM EST
    Societies fight wars although some innocent civilians die and even some soldiers die from "friendly fire".  If we were paralyzed from action by the fear of a single death of an innocent, we would do nothing.
    The pertinent question is whether a swift (within one year of conviction) death penalty would deter more murders of innocents than the accidental executions of innocents.

    That film was very good. It certainly challenges (none / 0) (#23)
    by halstoon on Thu May 29, 2008 at 11:49:53 PM EST
    those of us who believe in the death penalty to examine our support for it. Those tapes are eerie, and the story of Carlos DeLuna and his family is heartbreaking.

    The portrayal of Rev. Pickett is complex, and you can see and hear the hurt in his children, adding a tangential and powerful subtext to the story; an old harda$$ who is won over by liberalism to the amazement of his kids.

     I really liked it. I'm ready to support a permanent end to the practice of state-sanctioned death.

    For another perspective and a current reference, check out how our local prosecutor reacted when a Douglasville, GA man was spared death.

    I woke up last night and couldn't get back (none / 0) (#24)
    by Militarytracy on Fri May 30, 2008 at 09:26:01 AM EST
    to sleep around 3:00 am, watched it as it was aired a second time I guess.  Too many words swimming around....sad, horrified, courageous, terrifying