The Potosi Correctional Center is the showcase maximum security prison for Missouri's 'most dangerous criminals'; every inmate has been convicted of capital murder, and sentenced either to 50 years or life without parole, or to death by lethal injection. Trombley's exemplary film focuses not only on the ethics of capital punishment, with officials and prisoners alike allowed to give their opinions on the issue, but on the minutiae of who does what and how whenever an execution takes place. The prisoners (including one whose execution was stayed with just three hours to go) are especially articulate in their condemnation of the centre's 'humane' methods; and Trombley's cool tone, sharp images, and use of a superb modern jazz score, make for powerful viewing. One complaint only: we never learn what the prisoners actually did, which - while it doesn't alter the fact that the State is committing institutionalised murder - rather weakens the force of the film's argument.
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