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  • You wake up with a start.

  • You were sleeping soundly, but now all you can think about is the work day ahead.

  • It's not an ordinary work day, you think as you look at yourself in the mirror.

  • You haven't been sleeping well, and you can see it all over your face.

  • You're a death row executioner, and your moment has come.

  • Today you go to the prison and play your role in administering capital punishment.

  • Today you're going to put a convicted murderer to death.

  • When you joined the prisons bureau as a corrections officer, this wasn't the first thing on

  • your mind.

  • But as you rose in the ranks and were assigned to the maximum-security prisons where they

  • needed your experience, you often found yourself stationed on death row.

  • This is where the inmates awaiting execution are kept under the most secure conditions,

  • only let out for limited exercise time and kept away from the other inmates.

  • Most inmates stay on death row for years, often decades, as their lawyers appeal through

  • the courts.

  • The shortest time on death row in Texas in the modern era is 252 days, but some inmates

  • have died in prison after being there for over thirty years!

  • When those appeals run out and the time to an execution ticks down though, the prison

  • prepares to make sure everything goes off perfectly.

  • Part of that is picking the executioners.

  • The executioners are usually chosen from a pool of the correction officers working at

  • the prison, and they will ask for volunteers.

  • If there are no volunteers, the prison will typically pick from the staff of officers

  • and make sure they don't have strong moral objections.

  • The executioner will work closely with the prison's death team, which is responsible

  • for preparing the death chamber, making sure the inmate is secure, and taking care of all

  • the inmate's rights before they face justice.

  • But it wasn't always this way, you think to yourself.

  • When you first volunteered to be one of the prison's executioners, you found yourself

  • looking up the history of the profession.

  • An executioner used to be a very hands-on profession, dating back to ancient times when

  • the executioner would deliver death personally and brutally.

  • In fact, the executioner used to be known as a headsman, for the most common method

  • of execution - beheading.

  • Common in medieval times, the executioner was often a big, brawny man capable of swinging

  • an ax with great force.

  • The goal was to take the condemned's head off with a single clean stroke - often in

  • front of hundreds of onlookers.

  • Most executioners carried out this duty effectively, but there were exceptions like the notorious

  • John Ketch.

  • An official executioner in England in 1663, he didn't have the sure swing needed for

  • the job and often took as many as eight swings to take a person's head off.

  • This made for a bloody and horrific show, and the people who watched were disgusted.

  • After the backlash against him, he wrote a letter defending himself and blamed the executed

  • Lord Russell for his own botched execution.

  • But after another similar failure, John Ketch was nearly lynched by the public and had to

  • be ushered away by the guards.

  • He was so despised for his brutality that his name became synonymous with Satan in English

  • lore.

  • But time marched on, and so did the death penalty.

  • Soon the axe and the basket were replaced by more technical methods of execution, starting

  • with the gallows and the guillotine.

  • Hanging and beheading were common methods of execution for hundreds of years, but they

  • relied on the strength of the axeman or of the tree branch, and by the 19th century they

  • were replaced by more reliable inventions.

  • The gallows dropped the condemned through a platform while being hung, and the guillotine

  • used a sliding blade to take a head clean off the shoulders.

  • So the task of the execution fell to someone who knew how to operate the machine.

  • The key to the job stopped being strength and started being technical know-how.

  • This trend sped up with the introduction of the electric chair in the late 19th century.

  • Finalized by Edwin Davis in 1890, it was adopted by New York and Davis became the firstState

  • executionerof the state.

  • He was responsible for performing maintenance on the chair and ensuring the proper flow

  • of electricity went through it.

  • Davis performed over two hundred and forty executions, making him one of the most prolific

  • executioners in American history until his retirement in 1914.

  • He even presided over the execution of Leon Czolgosz, the assassin of President William

  • McKinley.

  • With the introduction of lethal injection in the 20th century, the job continued to

  • become more technical.

  • What hasn't changed is the need for anonymity in the role of the executioner.

  • While executioners could be celebrities in the middle ages, it was far more common for

  • them to avoid the notoriety of their role.

  • It was common for executioners to wear masks to disguise their identity.

  • With firing squads, it was often done by having a line of executioners aiming at the condemned,

  • but all but one of them holding guns loaded with blanks.

  • That way no one would know who fired the fatal shots - including the executioners themselves.

  • Some states use a private citizen as a volunteer, like in Florida where they're paid $150

  • per execution and their identity is kept secret.

  • But in most states, working as an executioner is a possible job duty for a member of the

  • corrections staff.

  • Lethal injection, done by sending a cocktail of drugs into the convict's body, first

  • to render them unconscious and then to stop their heart, is the most common method used

  • today.

  • A team of medical professionals is needed to set up the drug cocktails, but the actual

  • execution is left in the hands of a corrections officer who turns the key to activate the

  • flow.

  • It's common to have two or three on hand, turning keys with only one activating the

  • drugs.

  • You've done a lot of research on the history of executioners, but nothing's quite prepared

  • you for today.

  • You're snapped out of your thoughts by the sound of your alarm clock going off.

  • It's time to drive to work and head to the prison - preparation has been going on for

  • weeks, but the day of the execution is the busiest.

  • You'll have a full day of work ahead of you working with the prison's death team.

  • It's odd to be driving to work as the sun sets, but there's a reason for that - you're

  • beginning the twenty-four hour death watch as all essential staff prepares for the execution

  • and security goes up to ensure things go off smoothly.

  • Why is security so tight in the twenty-four hours before an execution?

  • Prisons are worried about potential disruptions, from protests outside the prison by anti-death

  • penalty advocates, conflicts between the family of the condemned and the those who have chosen

  • to witness the execution, or even attempts to break out an inmate.

  • For the execution of the notorious hitmanMad DogMonroe, who is meeting with

  • the executioner today, you know the prison won't be taking any chances.

  • You'll start around nine PM, twenty-four hours before the execution is scheduled, and

  • work closely with the death team and a specialized security team making sure the chamber is secure.

  • But the preparations have been going on for far longer than a day.

  • For the last fifteen days, ever sinceMad DogMonroe was brought to the facility

  • holding the death chamber, you and your team have been testing the equipment and making

  • sure it runs properly.

  • A botched execution is not only a massive waste of equipment and preparation, but can

  • often result in serious medical complications for the condemned and lead to lawsuits and

  • professional consequences for the team responsible.

  • You've been in the death chamber so often, examining and testing the equipment for the

  • lethal injection that it feels like second nature.

  • But you know this time will be very different.

  • You've had time to get to know the rest of the team, with the security often being

  • known as theTie-down Team”.

  • These correction officers have one of the most important jobs of the night - they're

  • responsible for escorting the inmate and securing them to the gurney.

  • While some inmates have accepted their fate and are resigned, even remorseful, others

  • are likely to resist and may have to be physically restrained to secure the execution.

  • From the looks you've gotten atMad DogMonroe during your time working on death row,

  • you know you're not betting on him going quietly.

  • While you meet with the warden, discuss any special concerns for the day, and do another

  • run-through of the death chamber, you think about what the condemned is doing that day.

  • The final day for the inmate scheduled for execution is as structured as the day for

  • the team handling it.

  • It differs by state, but almost all states give the condemned a few special privileges

  • after they've been moved to the cell for those awaiting execution.

  • This includes meeting with a member of the clergy from their faith, choosing family members

  • they want to have at their execution, preparing their last words, and choosing their last

  • meal.

  • The last meal can be almost anything available, and requests have varied wildly.

  • Some inmates have requested things as simple as a fruit salad or a single olive with the

  • pit in it - requested by an inmate who said he hoped a tree would grow from his body.

  • But most request a big, greasy meal of all their favorites.

  • Fried chicken is a common choice, as is steak, lobster, ribs, and desserts like apple pie

  • or ice cream.

  • Forty-nine of fifty states offer inmates their choice of a last meal.

  • Texas stopped the tradition after one inmate, Lawrence Russell Brewer, requested a massive

  • meal consisting of two chicken-fried steaks, a pound of barbecue, a fully loaded pizza,

  • and a pint of ice cream, among many other things.

  • When it was brought to him, he declined to eat any of it.

  • The public was outraged at the waste of food, and the state prison bureau decided to do

  • away with the tradition.

  • Condemned inmates in Texas prisons now only get a standard prison meal on their last day.

  • The execution is slated for nine PM.

  • The death team comes to pick upMad DogMonroe about an hour before.

  • You're part of the team, but he won't know which of his security team is going to

  • be his executioner.

  • From the look in his eyes, you can tell there isn't going to be any remorse or resignation

  • there, but he doesn't put up a fight.

  • He stares you down as he's put securely in handcuffs and leg irons, and marched down

  • the long hall to the death chamber.

  • The team secures him to the gurney, and he's strapped down using a complex system of tight

  • straps that keep him from moving.

  • As the lethal injection drugs have to be injected into central veins, it's critical that he

  • not be able to move even an inch while the on-site medical team administering the syringes

  • are working.

  • But they won't be the ones administering the drugs - you will.

  • While other members of the death team stay in the room, you're taken behind a panel

  • where you're hidden from view.

  • It's common for executioners to watch from behind a two-way mirror, where they can see

  • the execution room but they can't be seen.

  • The more things change, the more they stay the same - this is a higher-tech version of

  • the masked executioner.

  • You look down at the console in front of you, with everything you need to inject the drugs

  • in the correct order.

  • Being an executioner became much more complicated with the use of lethal injection - when the

  • electric chair was the most common method of execution, it was as simple as flipping

  • a switch to start the flow of electricity.

  • You watch as the medical team secures the needles and checks the connection.

  • The guests are seated, including any family members of the condemned and any people related

  • to his victims who have asked to attend.

  • Mad DogMonroe is asked if he has any last words, and he speaks for a minute but

  • you barely hear it.

  • Your mind is focused on the task ahead.

  • You receive the signal from the prison warden, who is presiding over the execution, and your

  • hand moves towards the buttons on the console.

  • With practiced ease, you press them in the correct order, and the drugs flow into the

  • tubes in the order to put the condemned under, and then to silently end his life.

  • The process takes several minutes, and then the medical professional on site checks the

  • vitals of the condemned.

  • He nods.

  • The execution has gone off perfectly, and you played your part as the anonymous executioner.

  • It's over.

  • Now check outTeenage Death Row Inmate Who Survived His Own Executionfor more

  • on one of the most spectacular failed executions in American history, or check out this video

  • instead.

You wake up with a start.

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做一個死刑犯是什麼感覺? (What Is It Like To Be A Death Row Executioner)

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    Summer 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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