The story of the author's 30-year career in Texas prisons, from his first night as a shotgun-wielding guard to the last man he accompanied to the death chamber, Willett remembers not just the big events of his career but the small ones that give prison life its texture. In measured but powerful prose, he describes the efficient actions of the 'tie-down team'; the prisoner's often meandering last words; and, the way that he himself lifted his glasses from his nose to signal the executioner to start the IV flow.
Jim Willett is now director of the Texas Prison Museum in Huntsville, Texas. He narrated the radio documentary "Witness to an Execution," which aired on National Public Radio's Morning Edition and won a Peabody Award in 2000. Ron Rozelle teaches creative writing. His novels include A Place Apart and The Windows of Heaven. Into That Good Night, his own memoir about childhood in East Texas, was a finalist for the PEN American West Creative Nonfiction Prize. He lives in Lake Jackson, Texas.