At the Death House Door

Steve James, Peter Gilbert

Reverend Carroll J. Pickett is still surprised by the change of direction his life took. From 1982 to 1995, he accompanied almost 100 death row inmates to their lethal injections. When he first started preaching in prison, he didn't know that counseling people who were sentenced to death fell under his job description. All the same, he was quickly summoned to lead a convict to the death chamber. Pickett was scared to death as well: don't know anyone who volunteers to die."The caretaker of souls struggled with his assignment after all, was he there to serve God or the state? Now that Pickett is retired, he spends a lot of time thinking back on those complicated years. After every execution, he made tapes of his experiences. criminals confessed, others didn't. And some were sentenced to death even though they were innocent."The case of the possibly innocent Carlos De Luna keeps him especially occupied. De Luna's case is also getting investigated by the editorial office of the Chicago Tribune. De Luna's sister is at it as well, and she hopes to clear the name of her brother who was put to death by the state. By means of interviews, mug shots and old news footage of the De Luna case, directors Peter Gilbert and Steve James sketch a portrait of Carroll J. Picket and denounce capital punishment in the process. (IDFA)


Steve James, Peter Gilbert
United States
96 minutes
human rights defenders & organizations (Activist)