--Pastor Carroll Picket
Death House Chaplain (retired)
Walls Unit, Huntsville
State of Texas
(Note: If you happen to read this on my FACEBOOK page, you will not see the embedded video trailer. I compose my blogs for BLOGGER and the FACEBOOK page accepts the feed, but deletes the video. Why, I don't know.)
Wednesday night, at the urging of film-maker Caesar Alejandro, Lee and I went to see the documentary At the Death House Door. It's a remarkable documentary that focuses on the spiritual journey of Pastor Carroll Pickett, the chaplain (retired) at the Walls Unit in Huntsville, TX. Mr. Pickett had chosen prison ministry as his life's work, but he did not expect to be the presiding chaplain when the State of Texas began once again executing death row inmates in 1982. He presided over 95 deaths, and since his retirement he has become an advocate for abolishing the death penalty. It's a powerful movie. I can only hope that the movie will be viewed by the Supreme Court Justices and all persons in power, including our incoming president, who have the opportunity to change national policy. I would also hope that this movie, and movies like it, become a part of the on-going national and educational dialogue about capital punishment.
NOTE: NON-PROFITS can arrange to view a computer download of the film here.
Below is the ad-copy from the producer:
At the Death House Door is a personal and intimate look at the death penalty in the State of Texas through the eyes of Pastor Carroll Pickett, who served 15 years as the death house chaplain to the infamous "Walls" prison unit in Huntsville. During Pickett's remarkable career journey, he presided over 95 executions, including the world’s first lethal injection. After each execution, Pickett recorded an audiotape account of his trip to the death chamber.The film was presented by the Binational Independent Film Festival, 2009, here in the sister cities of El Paso and Juárez. Ceasar Alejandro is the Executive Director and the driving force of the festival, and as such, he demands that the films are all independently produced, that Mexico and the US are well represented, that all fils are shown on both sides of the border, and that actors and directors who come as invited guests speak in both cities. Director John Sayles, truly a hero of the independent film-making, is on the board, is a fan of our fronterizo ambiente, and as a featured speaker last year made his presentation in English on this side and Spanish on the other. Very cool, huh?
The film also focuses on the story of Carlos De Luna, a convict Pickett counseled and whose execution troubled Pickett more than any other. He firmly believed De Luna was innocent, and the film tracks the investigative efforts of a team of Chicago Tribune reporters who have turned up evidence that strongly suggests he was.
The presence of BIFF in our community is exciting and emblematic of our intellectual and artistic communities. The Rorschach response to El Paso and Juárez these days is drug wars and the incessant killings, all of which are true and need to be understood, but at the same time there's an incredibly vibrant intellectual and cultural life here that is reflected most readily in the arts. The Binational Independent Film Festival is an important element of what's going on here on the border half-way between the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.