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The woman who watched 300 executions in Texas

May 9, 2018
Michelle LyonsImage copyrightBBC News

Texas has executed far more people than any other US state, and one former employee of the state has watched hundreds of executions unfold. She speaks to Ben Dirs about the profound effect that had on her.

It is 18 years since Michelle Lyons watched Ricky McGinn die. But it still makes her cry.

When she least expects it, she’ll see McGinn’s mother, in her Sunday best, her hands pressed against the glass of the death chamber. Dressed to the nines to watch her son get executed. Some farewell party.

The woman who watched 300 executions in TexasThe woman who watched 300 executions in Texas

For 12 years – first as a newspaper reporter, then as a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) – it was part of Lyons’ job to witness every execution carried out by the state.

Between 2000 and 2012, Lyons saw almost 300 men and women die on the gurney, violent lives being brought to a peaceful conclusion, two needles trumping the damage done.

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