Texas inmates reveal what life is like on 'suffocating' death row

Death row inmate Willie Trottie was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend and her brother. ITV News Credit: ITV News

By ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore

They call Huntsville the capital of capital punishment. This small town in Texas has the most active death chamber in America.

The debate about the morality of executing prisoners by lethal injection is largely bypassing this heavily pro-death penalty state.

Many US states - in fact, polls show that many Americans - are taking a second look at this method of killing, following the botched execution of two prisoners. They were left in visible agony and took many minutes to die after the cocktail of drugs being pumped into their bodies failed to do the job cleanly and quickly.

Amid the great debate that has been ignited by this grim debacle, one group of people have never been asked about their views of death by lethal injection: Death row prisoners themselves.

Mexican mafia member Manuel Vasquez talks to ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore about life on death row. Credit: ITV News

We were granted permission to enter death row in Texas and speak with two of the next men to be executed. One is a double killer, who shot his former girlfriend and her brother to death. The other is a hitman for the Mexican mafia who strangled a woman.

They spoke to me about their views of their imminent deaths.

One of the 'death beds' in Huntsville. Credit: ITV News

Manuel Vasquez says he wants to die because his 15 years in solitary confinement is intolerable and does not amount to a life worth living.

Willie Trottie says he is being used as a human experiment since Texas refuses to disclose what quantities of the drug will be used as he is strapped down and put to death.

The expanding death row cemetery where most executed prisoners are laid to rest. Credit: ITV News

Both men say that lethal injection might seem to outsiders as a benign way to die, but they believe it is like being drowned. They claim it amounts to the "cruel and unusual punishment" that is outlawed by the US Constitution.

Needless to say the views of these killers will not change minds in Texas, where the Death Chamber continues to be busy.