Tennessee's death row cam

| Wed Dec. 6, 2000 3:00 AM EST

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Tennessee residents no longer have to head to the video store to see a Dead Man Walking: The Department of Corrections is providing them with bona fide footage of a real-life death row prisoner only moments before his execution.

In April, the state put to death Robert Glen Coe, the first person to be executed there in 40 years. Corrections officials videotaped the preliminary events to document exactly what happens leading up to an execution. Journalists then sued to gain access to the video -- successfully -- claiming it was a public record.

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The FREEDOM FORUM reports that department officials edited out most of the video to preserve the anonymity of the other people involved in the execution. Still, the document captures a glimpse of Coe shortly before his death, and some of his last words are audible on the tape. The article points out that the video represents both the "danger of sensationalism and the value of informing the public."