Synopses & Reviews
While an increasingly outspoken American public is quick to endorse the death penalty, the voices of those who experience the chilling reality of executing another human being are seldom heard.
Donald A. Cabana chronicles a personal journey through the nation's prison system that culminated in giving the order to execute two death row inmates. Cabana's compelling account brings the reader inside the secretive, mysterious world of the execution chamber to witness the process of an execution and to experience the emotions of the executioner and the man strapped in the chair known as black death.
A courageous tale of a prison warden's moral awakening to the death penalty.
Death at Midnight is the provocative tale of prison warden Donald Cabana's moral awakening to the evils associated with the death penalty, and of the special relationship forged between a young black prisoner condemned to die and Cabana, the middle-aged white warden condemned to execute him. Cabana recounts his twenty-five-year career in corrections from his early beginnings as a naive but well-meaning prison guard to his tenures as warden at several prisons. He provides insight into prison life and illuminates significant changes and reforms that have occurred over the last two decades. Cabana frames his story with a riveting account of the execution of Connie Ray Evans, a prisoner with whom he developed a close bond during his many visits as warden to death row. He describes in vivid, compassionate detail the last two weeks in the life of Evans, and the same two weeks in the lives of the prison staff preparing to kill him. Cabana takes readers inside the "secretive, mysterious world of the execution chamber", allowing them to witness the execution process and to experience the myriad emotions of both the executioner and the condemned man strapped in a chair called "black death". In the end Cabana reveals that, although he spent most of his career convinced of the need for capital punishment, the eventuality of one day carrying out the death penalty was a disturbing and continual presence in his life and work. Giving the order to execute someone he believed was a reformed man finally led him to adopt an abolitionist stance.