Fourteen Days in May
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Fourteen Days in May is a documentary directed by Paul Hamann. The program recounts the final days before the execution of Edward Earl Johnson, an American prisoner convicted of rape and murder. Johnson protested his innocence and claimed that his confession had been made under duress. He was executed in Mississippi’s gas chamber on May 20, 1987.
The documentary crew, given access to the prison warden, guards and chaplain and to Johnson and his family, filmed the last days of Johnson’s life in detail. The documentary argues against the death penalty and maintains that capital punishment is disproportionately applied to African-Americans convicted of crimes against whites. The program features attorney Clive Stafford Smith, a noted advocate against capital punishment.
Fourteen Days in May won a British Film Institute Grierson Award and a top prize at the Festival dei Populi. It has been shown in many countries but has only appeared in an abbreviated form in the United States, on HBO. Hamann disowned this shortened version.
It was in direct response to this documentary that the Lifelines organization was set up, to organize pen pals for death row prisoners.