Fourteen Days in May is a documentary directed by Paul Hamann. The program recounts the final days before the execution of Edward Earl Johnson, an American prisoner convicted of murder and attempted rape. Johnson protested his innocence and claimed that his confession had been made under duress. He was executed in Mississippi’s gas chamber on May 20, 1987.
The documentary crew, given access to the prison warden, guards and chaplain and to Johnson and his family, filmed the last days of Johnson’s life in detail. The documentary argues against the death penalty and maintains that capital punishment is disproportionately applied to African-Americans convicted of crimes against whites. The program features attorney Clive Stafford Smith, a noted advocate against capital punishment.
This illustrates one of the main problems with the death penalty: you can’t change your mind after implementing it. If you’re wrong there is no going back on the decision later.
Update: I have now included a follow-up film in which Stafford Smith, at least, believes that he managed to find the person who was guilty of the murder Johnson was convicted for. I must admit I feel a big ambiguous about the film as the lawyer seems to be acting as prosecuter, judge and jury on the man he believes actually did the murder, but nevertheless as the evidence is compelling, and as it further highlights the problems involved with carrying out the death penalty I include it here.
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