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Until You Are Dead (1963)


Sound | 1963

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  •  Reverends consider biblical justifications for the death penalty 
  •  KPRC News Director Ray Miller on the history of capital punishment and recent trends 
  •  Houston Police Chief Hobson “Buddy” McGill, Harris County District Attorney, and Harris County Sheriff Buster Kern defend the use of the death penalty as a crime deterrent 
  •  Dr. John Silber, dean of the Sociology Department at the University of Texas at Austin, uses crime statistics to question the validity of the deterrent argument 
  •  Briscoe’s rebuttal 
  •  Texas Southern University professor, Dr. R. C. Koeninger, reviews findings from his study of Texas death penalty cases. He raises concerns about inconsistent sentencing for the same offense, particularly along racial lines, and the risk of executing an innocent person.  
  •  Briscoe’s rebuttal. While Koeninger broke down execution statistics on the basis of race, Briscoe instead addresses “people of particular sex and classes.” He then makes unsubstantiated claims against “that strata of our society” as responsible for the “more serious and more despicable crimes.”  
  •  Scaffold at the old Dewitt County jail in Cuero 
  •  Miller speaks to former Harris County Sheriff T. A. Benford about hanging versus electrocution 
  •  Reverend Robert Ingram and Dr. Silber follow up on Benford’s opinion about the deterrent effect of public executions 
  •  Houston’s first recorded murder indictment and conviction 
  •  Court reporter Rose Cook assesses the administration of the death penalty 
  •  Harris County Criminal Court Judge Langston King on the legality of capital punishment and public support for its abolishment 
  •  Death row inmates at the Harris County jail voice their opposition to capital punishment, citing racial and class discrimination in death penalty sentencing. According to a 2017 report by the NAACP, while the US black population is approximately 13 percent, African Americans account for a 42 percent of death row. Studies also indicate that individuals convicted of killing white victims are more likely to receive the death penalty than those convicted of killing non-white victims.  
  •  Dr. George Beto, director of the Texas Department of Corrections, and Emmett Moore, warden of the Huntsville Unit, talk about execution practices 
  •  Reverend Clyde Johnston, a clergyman at the Huntsville Unit chapel, describes how he attends to death row inmates 
  •  Father Arthur Caylor shares his personal opposition to capital punishment 
  •  Don Reed, editor of The Huntsville Item and correspondent for The Houston Post, explains his strong opposition to capital punishment 
  •  On witnessing executions 
  •  Texas Governor John Connally answers questions about the legality and effectiveness of capital punishment 
  •  About the electric chair and execution chamber. Texas began execution via electrocution in 1924. According to newspaper reports, 360 prisoners died in the electric chair. The state’s execution-by-injection law went into effect on August 29, 1977.  
  •  Dr. C. A. Dwyer, a physician who attends executions 
  •  Miller assesses recent trends in death penalty convictions and executions, including rates among certain demographics 
  •  Texas State Representatives Willis Whatley and J. Charles Whitfield Jr. consider the future of capital punishment, while the Reverend William Baine calls it a form of murder 
  •  Preparations for and discharge of electrocution 
  •  Attorney George Davis admonishes capital punishment as an “archaic” and “brutalizing social practice” 
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  • About the video
  • Ray Miller Ray Miller
  • John Connally John Connally
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Produced by the Channel 2 Special Projects Division for Houston’s KPRC-TV, this television documentary evaluates justifications for and judgments against capital punishment. KPRC News Director Ray Miller focuses on four primary questions: whether the death penalty is morally right, whether it deters crime, whether it is fairly administered, and whether there is any risk that it will be imposed on an innocent party. He speaks with a myriad of individuals on the subject, including top law enforcement and prison officials, politicians, court reporters, sociologists, religious leaders, journalists, and death row inmates themselves. A recurring concern suggested by some and dismissed by others is the presence of racial discrimination in death penalty sentencing. Miller also explains the process of electrocution, the state’s method of execution at the time. To conclude the documentary, the newsman wonders about the likelihood of Texas abolishing the death penalty in the future. While law enforcement and government officials largely voice their continued support of capital punishment, Miller stresses that decision rests with the public. “What is done to the prisoner the counties consign to the state’s executioner is done not in the name of the court, not in the name of the district attorney, not in the name of the sheriff,” he remarks, “it is done in the name and by the authority of the people of Texas, by your authority and in your name.” Please note, this film describes execution methods and other sensitive matters that may not be suitable for all viewers. Viewer discretion advised.
Newsman Ray Miller (1919 - 2008) began his broadcasting career in 1938 in his home town of Fort Worth. He relocated to Houston soon thereafter, where he joined KPRC Radio. When KPRC purchased Houston’s first television station in 1951, Miller adopted the burgeoning medium, eventually winning a Peabody Award. In 1969, Miller created The Eyes of Texas, a regional television series examining all things Texas. On the air for 30 years, the series became Houston’s longest-running local television program. Miller retired in 1979, serving as news director at both KPRC Radio and KPRC-TV for over 40 years. During his decades-long tenure at KPRC, Miller mentored a number of journalists, including Dan Rather and former US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. 
After retiring from television production, Miller became a local historian, writing several books and travel guides about historic attractions in Houston and Galveston. He also worked with the Harris County Historical Commission to secure markers for numerous sites. 
The 38th Governor of Texas, John Bowden Connally Jr., was born on a farm near Floresville, Texas, on February 27, 1917. Connally graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1941 with a law degree and was subsequently admitted to the State Bar of Texas. He began his political career as a legislative assistant to Representative Lyndon B. Johnson in 1939. The two retained a close but often torrid friendship until LBJ’s death. After returning from U.S. Naval combat in the Pacific Theater, Connally joined an influential Austin law firm, served as LBJ’s campaign manager and aide, and became oil tycoon Sid W. Richardson’s legal counsel. Connally’s reputation as a political mastermind was solidified after managing five of LBJ’s major political campaigns, including the 1964 presidential election. In 1961, Connally served as Secretary of the Navy under President John F. Kennedy.
Wealthy financiers like Sid Richardson and a strong grassroots network of supporters helped Connally win his first gubernatorial election in 1962. The three-term governor fought to expand higher education by increasing teachers’ salaries, creating new doctoral programs, and establishing the Texas Commission on the Arts and the Texas Historical Commission. In 1969, President Richard Nixon appointed Connally to the foreign-intelligence advisory board. He was named the 61st Secretary of the Treasury in 1971. Connally became one of the President’s principal advisors and headed the Democrats for Nixon organization, finally switching to the Republican Party in 1973. Connally is also remembered nationally for being in the car with President Kennedy during his assassination in Dallas in 1963, when Connally received wounds in his chest, wrist, and thigh. 
The former Texas governor announced in January 1979 that he would seek the Republican presidential nomination. His campaign was abandoned after media attacks over a controversial public speech and bank partnership. Financial troubles befell Connally by the mid-1980s after a real estate development partnership with former Texas Representative Ben Barnes collapsed. John Connally died on June 15, 1993, and is interred at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. 
Harris County
DeWitt County
Walker County
television news
tv news
news report
news footage
Until You Are Dead
television documentary
tv documentary
law enforcement
criminal justice
criminal justice system
capital punishment
death penalty
death row
Harold Pultz
Pultz, Harold
Robert Ingram
Ingram, Robert
William Baine
Baine, William
Charles Allen
Allen, Charles
Ray Miller
Miller, Ray
capital offense
death sentence
Buddy McGill
McGill, Buddy
police chief
police officer
Houston Police Department
Frank Briscoe
Briscoe, Frank
district attorney
Harris County District Attorney
Buster Kern
Kern, Buster
Harris County Sheriff
John Silber
Silber, John
R. C. Koeninger
Koeninger, R. C.
racial injustice
racial discrimination
Dewitt County Jail
county jail
T. A. Benford
Benford, T. A.
T. Benford
Benford, T.
Rose Cook
court reporter
racial bias
Langston King
King, Langston
criminal court judge
Harris County jail
Texas State Penitentiary
Huntsville Unit
prison warden
Texas Department of Corrections
George Beto
Beto, George
Emmett Moore
Moore, Emmett
Arthur Caylor
Caylor, Arthur
Clyde Johnston
Johnston, Clyde
Don Reed
Reed, Don
Travis County
state capitol
Texas state capitol
state capitol building
Texas state capitol building
Texas governor
John Connally
Connally, John
governor of Texas
Texas governor
electric chair
Old Sparky
C. A. Dwyer
Dwyer, C. A.
Willis Whatley
state representative
state legislator
Texas Legislature
J. Charles Whitfield
Whitfield, J. Charles
J. C. Whitfield
Witfield, J. C.
George Davis
Davis, George
William Baine
Baine, William
Hobson McGill
McGill, Hobson