At the Death House Door | Chicago Reader

At the Death House Door

Few talking-head documentaries have glued me to my seat like this Kartemquin feature about the Reverend Carroll Pickett, who served as chaplain to 95 Texas inmates as they awaited execution by lethal injection. Pickett recorded his impressions of each inmate's last day on cassette tapes, excerpted here, and the interview sequences show a loving and thoughtful man's gradual transformation from advocate to vocal opponent of the death penalty. Directors Steve James (Hoop Dreams) and Peter Gilbert (With All Deliberate Speed) also focus on inmate Carlos DeLuna, who was almost certainly innocent of the crime for which he was put to death in 1989 (suffering horribly in a botched procedure). The intersecting stories of Pickett and DeLuna show that capital punishment exacts a toll not only on its victims but on its perpetrators. 98 min.

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