After posting on’s interview of Texas Death Row’s Hank Skinner earlier this week, readers wrote to let us know about more television coverage of Death Row and Death Penalty issues this fall.  Which is great news.  The more public awareness is brought to these issues the better,right?

After all, that’s the main purpose of this blog: to shed light in dark corners, making the public aware of things like the indigent defense financial crisis, the complexity of mitigation, the importance of mercy. 

1.  FRONTLINE’S "Death by Fire" and "The Confessions" (10/18/2010 and 11/09/2010)

Jessica Smith, marketing communications manager for the national television series FRONTLINE (see it Tuesday nights on your local PBS station) wrote with two premieres on PBS:  FRONTLINE’s season premiere “Death by Fire,” (see it October 19, 2010) and its report entitled “The Confessions” (mark your calendars for November 9, 2010).

Both FRONTLINE pieces, explains Jessica, "…examine cases at the center of ongoing national debates over the death penalty, the ability of the convicted to access and present new scientific evidence that might prove their innocence, and the issue of false confessions – including how high pressure tactics and the threat of the death penalty can be used to force a confession."

Watch a sneak peak of The Confessions here.  (Couldn’t find an excerpt so you’ll have to jump to their site to see the video; ditto for the link below.)

Watch an excerpt from the first episode of Death by Fire here, which delves into the case of Cameron Todd Willingham who may well have been an innocent man executed for the arson deaths of his young children by the State of Texas. 

2.  Death Row Texas on National Geographic Explorer (this week — check local listings)

Another reader (anonymous) also recommended the recent documentary "Death Row Texas" on National Geographic Explorer.  From the show’s webpage, there has been one episode televised thus far (and it can be seen now at the NGE website), and presumably there are more episodes to come. 

Death Row Texas is a documentary where 3 Texas Death Row inmates whose execution dates are close at hand are interviewed on video from the Walls Unit in Huntsville, Texas.  This is a British production, and it provides the caveat that both sides of the capital punishment debate are presented in the show — promising that even the residents of Huntsville, where the Death House is located, will be interviewed for their perspective. 
NGE does provide a short video excerpt, here’s a short take on their documentary series: