9 episodes

The U.S. government’s sole execution chamber is on the grounds of a prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. Isolated from its general population, 44 condemned men are held in the Special Confinement Unit, or America’s death row. In 2020, the Trump administration launched a spree of executions, killing 13 condemned Americans in quick succession. A team of public radio journalists covered each execution in person.

Rush to Kill WFIU Podcasts

    • News
    • 5.0 • 14 Ratings

The U.S. government’s sole execution chamber is on the grounds of a prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. Isolated from its general population, 44 condemned men are held in the Special Confinement Unit, or America’s death row. In 2020, the Trump administration launched a spree of executions, killing 13 condemned Americans in quick succession. A team of public radio journalists covered each execution in person.

    In The Shadows

    In The Shadows

    In this final episode, we’ll take a look at the final execution of the Trump administration, which was legally unusual. This episode will also include discussion of the “Shadow Docket” — and why some experts argue that the death penalty is corrupting our legal system, allowing the Supreme Court to make decisions without explaining why.



    Rush to Kill is available at wfiu.org/rushtokill.

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    • 1 hr
    Intellectual Disability

    Intellectual Disability

    In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court barred the government from carrying out death sentences of people with intellectual disabilities. But in its final weeks in office, the Trump administration set dates for two intellectually disabled men. Corey Johnson was the second person after Alfred Bourgeois whose attorneys presented evidence he was intellectually disabled.

    Coming up in the final episode, we'll see how the continued existence of the American death penalty is leaving its mark on our society.



    Rush to Kill is available at wfiu.org/rushtokill.

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    • 54 min
    Culpability

    Culpability

    In this episode, we meet the people behind a global campaign to save Brandon Bernard. And how 20 years later, they say the experience transformed their beliefs about capital punishment and fairness in the justice system.

    Coming up in Episode 7:

    Facing a hard deadline, the U.S. government rushes to carry out two remaining scheduled executions. They both go very wrong.



    Rush to Kill is available at wfiu.org/rushtokill.

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    • 48 min
    Lynch Law

    Lynch Law

    Historians have long documented how the modern death penalty emerged as a supposed “solution” to the problem of lynchings, racial or otherwise. A method to exact justice behind closed doors, to avoid spectacle. The death penalty is supposed to be a neutral alternative. And yet, at least at the federal level, it depends on who’s in charge.

    Starting in 2020, the Trump administration swiftly executed 12 men and one woman in Terre Haute, Indiana, where all federal executions take place. Far more than any administration in modern history. And, curiously, the execution spree initially appeared to spare one typically over-represented demographic: Black men. The feds waited all summer before scheduling the execution of a Black person. But once they started, they didn’t stop; every man selected to die after last summer was Black.

    A year later, the question remains: why was the execution spree split along racial lines? In this episode, we try to find out.

    We’ll hear from the first African American targeted by the U.S. government for execution in two decades — and find out why his loved ones threw out the clemency rulebook and took his case directly to the American people. And we’ll hear from experts convinced that justice officials considered race when they selected which people to kill — and when. Why that might be, and what it says about the federal death penalty’s ability to deliver justice, and mercy, without bias.

    Coming up in Episode 6:

    What happens when a prosecutor changes her mind and tries to save someone she helped condemn to death?



    Rush to Kill is available at wfiu.org/rushtokill.

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    • 44 min
    Poison

    Poison

    Lethal injection is now the primary execution method used by the federal government and all executing states. Often dressed up to resemble a medical procedure, it appears to offer a kinder, more gentle death. But records obtained by NPR and WFIU suggest the federal government's preferred execution chemical caused massive damage to prisoners' lungs and might have caused excruciating pain in their final moments.

    Coming up in episode 5:

    Why was the execution spree split along racial lines?



    Rush to Kill is available at wfiu.org/rushtokill.

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    • 53 min
    American Woman

    American Woman

    How are American lawyers prepared to handle clients with severe mental health issues? Does this factor into the decision to place someone on death row? We're digging into the execution of Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row. Listen to firsthand accounts from the family members, lawyers and investigators involved in her case.

    Want to learn more about the Lisa Montgomery case? Watch "A Mother’s Justice: The Trials of Lisa Montgomery"

    Coming up in episode 4:

    Lethal injection is thought to be painless and thought to be quick, seemingly the most humane choice. But what if we've got it all wrong?



    Rush to Kill is available at wfiu.org/rushtokill.

    Apple Podcasts | Spotify | RSS

    More podcasts from WFIU

    • 59 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
14 Ratings

14 Ratings

pulm/cc fellow ,

Gripping! Could easily compete with Serial.

This is gripping and very well done. I was impressed. I can’t believe this doesn’t have a larger footprint.

Fellow George Hale Groupie ,

Unprecedented Detailed Account of an Unprecedented Execution Spree

I’m part of this story, and even part of this podcast, and I can’t tell you how amazed I am about the level of detail and the stories George has told throughout his podcast. I was an attorney and activist protesting outside of the prison during each execution, and through my activism, and then later becoming part of the legal team at the end, I began recording my conversations with Christopher Vialva, the seventh person executed in the execution spree and featured in episode 5. This podcast also recounts stories Chris told me throughout, and it’s just heartbreakingly beautiful to go back and remember this story, and learn so much more about these horrors. Saying goodbye to Christopher was excruciating, but I promised him I would never stop fighting to show the world his humanity, which is all he ever wanted for him and the other inmates on federal death row. And I can say George’s dedication to exposing the fatal flaws of this system is the light that came out of this execution spree and he has helped me keep my promise to Chris. I am so honored and proud to call him a friend, and I couldn’t be more proud of what he has created. He has literally put his heart and soul into this project, and this is only the tip of the depths of the darkness he has had to dive into as the people’s witness to an execution spree. But We the People deserve to know about the people who are killed in our names.

Supafan99 ,

Essential and impressive

I just finished listening to the first three episodes and am eagerly awaiting more. These podcasts illuminated the complexity of the issue of the death penalty by putting the real lives of violent crime victims and those who committed those crimes at the center. This is a hard, gruesomely hard, topic to look at and sit with. Many thanks to the journalists who are willing to shed light on these lives.

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