An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.  - Gandhi

Chilling Testimony Of Death Row Executioners

At some point for Fred Allen, something snapped. He’d done one too many. He broke.

Years had gone by, but he could still picture the eyes of every inmate he’d helped tie down, restrain with multiple straps so that the execution team could slide needles into his veins, enabling deadly chemicals to surge through his body.

The chilling Sound Portraits radio documentary from 2000, “Witness to an Execution,” won a Peabody Award that year, and there is no question why. It’s unnerving, eye-opening, and massively instrumental in illustrating the process, the nuances, and the anatomy of an execution — something we’re far too unfamiliar with.

In the documentary, Allen spoke about his experiences publicly for the first time.

“I was just working in the shop and all of a sudden something just triggered in me and I started shaking … And tears, uncontrollable tears, was coming out of my eyes. And what it was was something triggered within and it just — everybody — all of these executions all of a sudden all sprung forward.”

Allen had been on the “tie down team” for about 120 executions at the Walls Unit Prison in Huntsville, Texas. And he couldn’t do it again.  He left his job shortly thereafter.

His boss, Jim Willett, said, “I don’t believe the rest of my officers are going to break like Fred did, but I do worry about my staff. I can see it in their eyes sometimes…”

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