Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Reporting on Executions: It's Not 'Routine'

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Reporting on Executions: It's Not 'Routine'

Article excerpt

There's nothing routine about executions, Mike Graczyk says, even though The Associated Press' Houston correspondent has crammed into the Huntsville Prison death chamber to witness the lethal injection of a prisoner more than 150 times.

"It bothers me when people say executions are getting 'routine,'" Graczyk said at the recent Society of Professional Journalists convention in Indianapolis. "You never know what's going to happen, and that's what makes it a good news story." Graczyk has seen condemned prisoners filibuster in their last remarks, scream obscenities, pray, and remain silent. One convict forever ruined "Silent Night" for Graczyk by singing the Christmas carol as his last words.

If executions are not routine, it can be said that Texas - which has executed more than 180 convicts since restoring the death penalty in 1982 - has the procedure down to a science. Executions are always carried out by lethal injection at 6 p.m. in Huntsville. By state regulation, Graczyk said, ap has one of three guaranteed spots inside a cramped death chamber with just enough room for several rows of three people standing shoulder-to-shoulder.

"If you aren't tall, you are going to have a problem seeing," the beefy Graczyk said.

In contrast to Graczyk, Lynn Ford has witnessed only one execution - at the request of the condemned man. Gregory D. Resnover, sentenced to the electric chair for killing an Indianapolis policeman, asked Ford to be there because he liked the weekly column of The Indianapolis Star assistant lifestyle editor. …

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