witnessing 283 EXECUTIONS

Michelle Lyons has likely witnessed more executions than any other woman on the planet. During her time as a local reporter in Huntsville, Texas, and later while serving as the spokesperson for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, she witnessed approximately 283 executions over 12 years. If you do the math, that’s about one execution every 15 days. Michelle still supports the death penalty, but her experience gave her serious misgivings about some of the ways the system works and the injustices that are sometimes carried out. This episode explores the functioning of the American death penalty in practice. What’s it like to speak to an inmate who is heading to the execution chamber? What do the inmates say in their final statements? What do they eat for their final meal? Do prison staff ever mourn the loss of an inmate who is put to death? For this episode, we put the ethics of the death penalty to one side — because in the next episode, called “An Eye for an Eye?” we look at the philosophy of the death penalty. Is it necessary? Or is it barbaric? Don’t miss it.

Further Reading:

If you’d like to buy Michelle’s excellent book, you can find it here.

If you’d like to take a look at the records from all of the executions from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, you can find those records here. They include final statements, case details, and other information about the inmates.

If you’d like to read more about Napoleon Beazley, here’s an article about his case written in 2002, before he was executed.