“The Witness”

Texas Monthly  
September 01, 2014 


“The Witness,” which appeared in the September 2014 issue of Texas Monthly, is an intimate view of the death penalty as seen through the eyes of Michelle Lyons, a former prison employee who witnessed no fewer than 278 executions. The story is an even-handed, nuanced view of a highly-charged issue in Texas, which has the most active death chamber in the country. The story shows the personal cost that is paid by the prison employees who must administer the death penalty. Says Michelle, who is pro-death penalty: “There is a difference between supporting the death penalty as a concept and being the person who actually watches its application.” The story garnered tremendous state and national media attention, and helped foster both a deeper understanding of the death penalty, and a debate about its human cost.

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Submitted by Pamela Colloff.

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