The title of this 90-minute documentary, "Procedure 769: Witnesses to an Execution," is taken from the official regulations that governed California's gas chamber execution protocol in 1992. Its subject is those who witnessed the gassing execution of Robert Harris on April 21, 1992, the first in 25 years.
Harris became the poster-child for the pro-death penalty forces in the state, and his execution initiated California's plunge into the modern era of capital punishment. His was the first of 13 executions carried out between 1992-2006.
The documentary by Dutch filmmaker Jaap van Hoewijk focuses on a dozen of the witnesses to that execution, from relatives of the victims to relatives of the condemned, from "official" state witnesses to the press. This is not an argument for or against the death penalty, but rather a unique look at the impact the viewing of an execution had on these witnesses from both sides of the divide.
One viewer said, "It is rare that a film comes along that invokes such difficult emotions to deal with. It was very sad to see the victim's mother and friends of the executed man recount his final hours…. Is capital punishment a hallmark of a civilized society?"
To see a trailer of "Procedure 769: Witnesses to an Execution" go to: