Carrying out executions took a secret toll on workers — then changed their politics
I spoke with 26 current and former workers who were collectively involved with more than 200 executions across 17 states and the federal death chamber. They were executioners, lawyers, correctional officers, prison spokespeople, wardens, corrections leaders, a researcher, a doctor, an engineer, a journalist and a nurse. Many shared their names and stories publicly for the first time. And though most of them reported suffering serious mental and physical repercussions, only one person said they received any psychological support from the government to help them cope. The experience was enough to shift many of their perspectives on capital punishment. No one I spoke with whose work required them to witness executions in Virginia, Nevada, Florida, California, Ohio, South Carolina, Arizona, Nebraska, Texas, Alabama, Oregon, South Dakota or Indiana expressed support for the death penalty afterward, NPR found.