On the Inside
Louis Perez interviewed on Death Row
To get to Death Row, drive three hours east to Huntsville. Pass the red-brick prison housing the execution chamber, then take Highway 190 another hour. You’ll cross a forest, then a lake, then head south around the town. The Polunsky Unit is in Livingston, Texas, on a quiet patch of land.
Members of the media may interview inmates on Wednesdays between 1 and 3pm, unless an inmate – any inmate – is scheduled for execution that day. Once there, you’re chaperoned by a nice guy who’s definitely not as excited as you to be at death row this day; he guides you through the security doors and across a quad, and into a visitation room painted almost entirely white.
You get 30 minutes to set up – get your microphones and cameras in working order. Guards shuttle shackled inmates called in for other interviews down a path between the conference cells. They look at you, you look at them. Some you recognize, like Rodney Reed, there that day for CNN. We’ve had our eyes on him for years.
The inmate arrives. He sets up his microphone and sits down. He grabs the phone, you grab the phone. You’ve got one hour to talk.