Inside Death Row with Trevor McDonald

Inside Death Row with Trevor McDonald

Series 1 - Episode 1



There is something quite eerie and almost surreal about watching Trevor McDonald make genial chit-chat with the doomed inmates on Indiana State Maximum Security Prison’s death row. Everyone is so terribly, impeccably polite in the most incongruous of ways. One condemned man describes a fellow prisoner’s murder and mutilation of a 14-year-old girl as “uncalled-for”. This is after he attacks the murderer’s “lack of morals”.

Another man gossips quite amiably with McDonald about how his execution was commuted to a 150-year prison sentence. Another has been on death row for 18 and a half years. Why? “They said I killed three people” is his answer. Louis Theroux has done this kind of reportage before, and done it better. McDonald is too constrained by his own nice-ness, he’s not inquisitive enough. He looks terribly ill at ease, too, which is perhaps understandable; it’s a hell of a forbidding place.


Part one of two. The broadcaster ventures inside Indiana State Prison, meeting 12 condemned men awaiting execution and some of the other inmates in the maximum-security facility. Among those he talks to are Benjamin Ritchie, who murdered a policeman, and John Stephenson, who killed three people on the orders of a gang boss, while James Harrison reveals how he escaped the death penalty with only weeks to spare after accepting a deal of life inside. Trevor also visits the 1950s-style barber shop where all the hairdressers are convicts, including Rick Pearish, who explains why they are given permission to use cut-throat razors and sharp implements.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Trevor McDonald
Director Stuart Cabb
Executive Producer Will Daws