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Death Row Chaplain Becomes Abolition Activist

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April 30, 2008

Today’s San Antonio Current features an interview with Reverend Carroll Pickett, the subject of the award-winning new documentary,

“At the Death House Door.” The film follows Pickett’s career at Texas’ infamous ‘Walls’ Unit in Huntsville, home of Texas’ death row, as he presided over 95 executions over 15 years as the chaplain there, including the world’s first lethal injection. After each execution, Pickett recorded an audiotape account of his trip to the death chamber. In the film, Pickett reflects on his personal journey, as well as the institutional changes that were made after his retirement, and what he hopes to accomplish as an anti-death penalty advocate.

Rev. Pickett, along with filmmaker Peter Gilbert, will be at the ACLU Membership Conference this summer in Washington, D.C., talking about the film and issues around the death penalty with other experts and special guests on a panel on June 9, called “Capital Punishment: Race, Faith, and the Courts.” The film will be screened at the conference as well.

In addition, the ACLU and the ACLU of Illinois are co-hosting, with Kartemquin Films, the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law, and the Public Square at the Illinois Humanities Council, a 700-person screening in Chicago on May 28. After the screening, there will be a discussion featuring Pickett, Chicago Tribune reporter Steve Mills, filmmakers Steve James and Gilbert, Ed Yohnka of the ACLU of Illinois, and Rob Warden, director of the Center for Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University.

“At the Death House Door” is currently traveling the film festival circuit and premieres on the IFC channel on May 29.

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