Fourteen Days in May

Fourteen Days in May

1988, Society  -   84 Comments
6.97
12345678910
Ratings: 6.97/10 from 69 users.

Fourteen Days in MayFourteen 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.

More great documentaries

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

84 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Susan
Susan
2 years ago

OH NO, this is a racial killing " just because I am black, they are sending me to death, just because I'm black." It just couldn't be that a heinous crime was committed, oh no, its "because I'm black."

Hannalore
Hannalore
2 years ago

When I worked in Corrections, I never found a guilty person in the entire facility. They all said they were " innocent" of their crime.

karen
karen
3 years ago

Worse programme I have ever seen I my whole life. I had to turn it off. Too upsetting to watch. I feel ashamed that human beings can be so cruel. RIP EEJ. And I hope that gas chamber is burnt to the ground. And why kill rabbits just to test the chamber works. WTF. Upset me big time.

Lil.T.
Lil.T.
4 years ago

Edward Earl Johnson should never be forgotten! My heart goes out to him and his family after watching the documentary. I hope and pray all those who were involved in setting him up, are held accountable on their judgement day! May Edward be Blessed for eternity, with his strong, beautiful soul..and may his story be told to help others get justice in a unjustified system! This is a Sick, Twisted, World we live in as it's STILL happening to other innocent people to this day!! R.I.E.P- EEJ.
There's a 2nd follow up documentary called The Journey. When they find the real killer!! Can anyone send me the link to watch it please? Am struggling to find it, as we all know they don't want us to know the real truth...
The truth is they murdered an innocent man!

Russ Tul
Russ Tul
5 years ago

One way to prevent horrific kinds of violent crime would be to execute the murderer in the same way as he/she killed his/her victim. This would make would-be murderers think twice before they choose to torture their victims.

JustME
JustME
6 years ago

My mom had the honor of discussing the Bible and Heaven with Edward. He became a very familiar name in my home growing up. He was a very kind and humbled person. He wanted justice, but didn't gripe about the mistreatment he had been given. He spoke of encouragement and told everyone that whatever happened was meant to be. God had his life in his hands.....Not man. Man took the breathe from his body, but God gave him a much better life. A much better reward. I do not like to think about his last hours, but my mom was right there with him and his family. It was devastating to see such an injustice carried out. When people take skin color to convict, they aren't looking for justice. They are looking for revenge. The Bible says, Revenge is mine, sayeth the Lord. I sure hope that the ones that put this young man in this tragic situation is given mercy from God that they denied him.

Dr Clark
Dr Clark
7 years ago

Sick little manipulative animal got what he deserved.

Ashley Smith
Ashley Smith
7 years ago

Earl Johnson Murder was manipulation at its worst and agree we live in a sick world!

Chris troy
Chris troy
8 years ago

Clive Stafford smith summed it all up in one for me it's a sick world, it's a sick sick world. Clive Stafford smith knows an innocent man when he sees one and this man was innocent make no mistake about that even the prison guards knew mr Johnson was innocent aswel as the Chaplin my god what does it take to prove innocence, as for the black woman going to the courtto say she was with mr Johnson I applaud your effort but as the saying goes to little to late.as for the white police officer just wonder was the reason you did let this lady in the court room a colour thing plain to see it was. One more thing Clive Stafford smith you are a true Gentleman.

Mikey mab
Mikey mab
8 years ago

The warden cabana said that this man actually was innocent. This is really sad

Scotty
Scotty
8 years ago

Unbelievable

JohnGammon
JohnGammon
9 years ago

To Pavolvs [sic] B**** - Ruth Ellis was clearly guilty of murder; the debate is whether she was in her right mind when she shot David Blakely.
However, there were definitely several innocent people hanged in Britain, some hanged by the most well known official executioner Albert Pierrepoint, who came to believe capital punishment was wrong. Mistakes HAVE been made, and continue to be made even with the jury system, fingerprint evidence, DNA etc. If you believe in the death penalty, you must logically argue that the odd judicial slip up is OK. But if this is your view then you should therefore agree that it's all right if it's your innocent child hanged. In Britain we're often told that the vast majority of the public support bringing back capital punishment, but if there were a full debate on it I wonder if this is true.

Vexxa LeVeaux
Vexxa LeVeaux
11 years ago

"Vengeance is mine", saith the Lord.

Ben Hamilton
Ben Hamilton
11 years ago

It seems quite contradictory to pray and ask for God's love when He doesn't even bother to save your life. Spend your whole life giving thanks and this is the help the big guy gives?
If there is a God what do you think Edward might have said to him when he finally saw Him? "Why didn't you give me justice?" might be one.

PavolvsBitch
PavolvsBitch
11 years ago

I'll watch it but I know for fact that plenty of patsys get executed wrongly; in UK our last woman to hang was Ruth Ellis and there's plenty of evidence for her innocence and who the guilty parties were. This was a class and sex crime. But I'll say this, blacks are arrested and convicted for the disproportionate number of crimes on whites which is given in police stats as 80%. White on black crime is rare by comparison but on the corporate level, the arch criminals, both black and white continue to sentence us all.

Trudi
Trudi
11 years ago

Oh no user removed video, I really wanted to watch this and possibly show it to my class. :(

ranii02
ranii02
12 years ago

user removed video :(

Geoff Purssell
Geoff Purssell
12 years ago

An interesting if not disturbing look at the final 2 weeks for life of Mississippi death row inmate Edward Earl Johnson awaiting death in the gas chamber. Aside from a live testing of the chamber using rabbits, the most poignant moment comes when Johnson sits in a waiting area between the last night cell and the death house. We know as we witness a tired and yawning Johnson; supported by his lawyer and a nun, that he has but a short time to live. Warden, Don Cabana tells Johnson that at quarter to midnight (which is only minutes away) doctors will come in and connect a stethoscope to his chest and that shortly after he will be moved into the chamber. Regardless of Johnson's guilt or innocence or the crime for which he was condemned, the viewer can only begin to imagine the process which ended Johnson's life soon after. Death by hydrogen cyanide gas is not as quick or seemingly painless as evidenced by the live test on the rabbits. The film ends with the announcement of death by the warden and a comment from Johnson's abolitionist lawyer that it's "a sick world". How right he was. Recommend reading 'Death at Midnight' by Don Cabana or 'The Last Face You'll Ever See' by Ivan Solotaroff.

Guest
Guest
12 years ago

If your going to sentence someone to death is it right to keep them on death row for years, I almost think it would be better to take them outside and put a bullet in their head. It seems that the harder they try to remove themselves from the actual killing, the more obscene it becomes. The whole process, the last meal, the last visit from family, last words, why string it out, Is that part of the punishment? It's like they have to prolong the revenge and suck the marrow out of it. Why try to make the execution itself so clinical after all that, when all's said and done the gas chamber is no less awful than hanging or beheading.

Guest
Guest
12 years ago

Jeffrey Dahma , 957 year sentence,
Edward Earl Johnson, death.
Not very consistent.

papismm
papismm
12 years ago

so sad so sad...Everybody is gonna die guess what this man might have a better position than those who executed him...

alain vassallo
alain vassallo
12 years ago

Iff it`s true that there was a woman who claims she was with him ,then the officer who send her away should should go to trail for murder!

Anthony Wrifford
Anthony Wrifford
12 years ago

this made me sick

aka Max
aka Max
12 years ago

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Mahatma Gandhi, (attributed) Indian political and spiritual leader (1869 - 1948) ...

princesspatricia
princesspatricia
12 years ago

The United States is a different place with different outlooks. This of course does not make Capital punishment correct or right. I do believe that he was innocent and made an example of. Most likely because of the publicity that it caused in the media towards the end of his days. However, his faith is something we can all draw from and is excellent witness and testimony.

Allison Hunt
Allison Hunt
12 years ago

If someone would just slip the noose around Baby Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Obama then I would be more than happy to kick the chair beneath their air-dancing feet. "Mommy, why are those men's faces turning dark purple?"

Anthony Bates
Anthony Bates
13 years ago

I don't believe in the death penalty. For one it's nothing but a political tool to get elected. Additionally, there are repoted cases of innocent people who have been put to death. To the people who are in favor of the death penalty; I say if killing an innocent person is murder and executing anyone whose innocent is also murder. So if anyone is executed and later found to be innocent; I ask you, Are you willing to be taken against your will straped to an aparatus and killed? To most of the death penalty proponents, they are too cowardly to want to deal with the prospects of that situation taking place. Further, some of the responces to the probability of an innocent person being put to death are "it happens" and words like that. However, if that were a family member of mine that got railroaded like Edward was, those people who did this would have to be imprisoned in general population along with the people he helped convict. Prisons have lots of vendictive people running around.

the truth
the truth
13 years ago

very disturbing as he was innocent, but they should not get rid of death penalty, i live in the U.K and i think they should bring back hanging for certain crimes, rape, murder, paedophilia, burglary etc our legal system is that stupid u can get more years in prison for selling drugs than for killing someone...how does that work?

if someone can be proved 100% guilty of a serious crime then dispose of them!! if it cant be proved then give them a sentence inside. i do think america does get a little bit death row happy but in a country where u can buy guns over the counter what do you expect, its there own wrong doing that causes it...but ye...bring back hanging to the uk legal system!

omgLAgos!
omgLAgos!
13 years ago

an eye 4 an eye...the whole world will open their eyes and fear losing one..!

omgLAgos!
omgLAgos!
13 years ago

an ee 4 an eye...the whole world will open their eyes and fear losing one..!

Andy K
Andy K
13 years ago

I was 27 when this came on T.V. in the U.K. and there was somewhat of an outcry about how brutal it was, 20 years on it's still brutal but even more so because society should have learned something by now. For a start the U.S. is still a racist society the stats will tell anyone that and thats even with a black president. And a gas chamber what sort of animal thought that one up, a nazi and it took him 12 minutes to die, an animal shouldn't be treated like that. The U.K. stoped the death penalty nearly 50 years ago. It will not stop people from killing eachother so why have it?

Anthony Bates
Anthony Bates
13 years ago

I truely believe Edward was railroaded. Saying that, the state of Mississippi has blood on it.s hands. Because of the continuing bigotry that state has to offer, I personnally will never visit that place for any reason. The most corrupt form of justice is located in mostly the south. I Guess the people who forced him into confessing to somthing he did not do don't have a concience about their actions. In the end, carma will exact it's level of justice against those who do cowardly acts like this.

Kim Kim
Kim Kim
13 years ago

Sorry Edward you had to go this way. Some People in this sick World just do not want to learn.You are in a much better Place I know for sure.God sends his Angels and look what they do to them. How calm u where and gave others so much Strength.Be blessed....much love

kirk
kirk
13 years ago

I am at a lose for words. This is one of the saddest things i have ever watched. It scares me to know that this country was/is this unfair. God bless Edward and his family.

Paul
Paul
13 years ago

This documentary made me sick. That poor man.

Dwayne
Dwayne
13 years ago

I been in the storm so long
Been in the storm so long, children
Been in the storm so long
Oh give me little time to pray

Medusa
Medusa
13 years ago

I've seen my friend die by lethal injection.
He was innocent and it could be proven...
The prosecutors did everything in it's power to have my friend executed and they did just that..
One year later, the prosecutors office made a statement that my friend could be innocent...
Capital punishment does not, nor will it ever work....
Why do we kill people, to tell people, that killing people is wrong!

KiwiAnge
KiwiAnge
13 years ago

An eye for an eye and the whole world would be blind.

Carl
Carl
13 years ago

Without reasonable doubt, there was a lot of doubt here. I can't beleive they executed him! This is very similar to the documentary "Murder on a Sunday Morning" in which the police forced the confession.

Pacha
Pacha
13 years ago

praise be

ALKEM BOUCAM
ALKEM BOUCAM
13 years ago

PACHA,
Do you know that you are condemned to death too, that unless Jesus Christ is received by you in the heart you will be executed in the end. America has so much blood on its hands that time and history will not be able to cleanse them. God help you have a compassionate heart both toward the victim and the guilty like He had on you the worst of criminals when He sent His beloved Son to suffer and die for you. God bless you.

ALKEM BOUCAM
ALKEM BOUCAM
13 years ago

cowardice. Go to a black neighborhood and repeat that and you will be turned in sugarless cake.

ALKEM BOUCAM
ALKEM BOUCAM
13 years ago

Message to the seemingly evil-minded Jared. I believe it's criminals like you who are so proud of their wrong deeds that deserve to be locked up. Even for someone wicked-sounding like yourself I wouldn't wish the death penalty. Keep on being so perverse and one day life will catch up with you. By your words I can tell you wouldn't mind seeing all black men executed in the U.S.. Your racism is nothing but a

ALKEM BOUCAM
ALKEM BOUCAM
13 years ago

O that my spirit was exceedingly vexed by this docutruth! The judges of the earth have perverted judgment and the great leaders of the people have slighted justice. Do these judges and other deciders know that they will be judged too one day by the Great and Unerring Judge of all for all their evil deeds? How can they go home and sleep at peace with all these innocent deaths on their consciences? I could not stop crying. This was so terrible to keep a man for so long and then kill him! How cruel it was to also kill those poor rabbits! May God bless my brother Earl's family, my love to them all in Jesus (your faithfulness in Jesus in the face of tragedy was an inspiration to me. God bless the lawyer, the chaplin, the praying lady and even the parchman and all the others (inmates and guards). It is never late to bless the living though it is too late for the dead. I am faithful that Jesus is Merciful.

Praxis
Praxis
13 years ago

Stacey,

Unfortunately, this sort of thing did not end in the 1980s. There have been several confirmed wrongful convictions since 2005.

Stacey
Stacey
13 years ago

Wow ... I feel terrible for Edward and his family, he was innocent all along. I can only imagine what innocent people had to go through during the 80's, how many of them were wrongly accused. Such a moving documentary.

RAW JUSTICE - DK
RAW JUSTICE - DK
13 years ago

It is clear, killing is evil, therefore there can be no enough excuse to take a life! Yes emotion may run high and low on this, but there is no way we can justify having two wrong to make right.
Any country/state that supports or takes life is worse evil than those they claim to be executing. Yes, you cannot tell me that killing is bad, and then you kill someone in the name of 'being a state' that's rubbish! There are other punishments for those monsters. like creating another Australia and deporting those people there. At least we know the history of those living in Austria today.. Those that would have been executed if the British has been using that method. Although today the Aborigines may be wishing that those people had not been brought to take over their land and subject them to slavery in their land.
I suggests that the so called 'civilised' world that still apply barbaric method in dealing with the madness they helped create, should wake up in the 21st century and figure out what works, in solving the mess they created one way or the other.

Rebecca
Rebecca
13 years ago

I've been in favor of the death penalty all of my adult life...until now. That was the most gut-wrenching thing I've ever watched. Even knowing that he was executed in the end, I kept hoping against hope that maybe they would grant an appeal. I'm usually beyond skeptical of inmates claims of innocence but something about Edward...I feel it in my heart that he was innocent, and what the state of Mississippi did was nothing short of cold-blooded pre-meditated murder.
I also used to think that the process of execution, especially with lethal injection, was relatively humane. After seeing the whole process from beginning to end, I cannot think of a more cruel punishment then having to sit with your family for a last meal knowing that in a matter of hours you will be strapped to a chair and murdered.
That poor, poor boy. RIP Edward :*(

Justice
Justice
13 years ago

Being mad does not only mean when people are in the psychiatric.. There is a saying in my place that when someone is taking shower hanging his clothes outside the door of the shower and a mad man came and wear his cloth and ran off, and on noticing that, the man taking shower zoom off naked chasing the mad man. Who do you think people will consider a mad man? Ofcourse the 'normal' person chasing naked a clothed madman!
Sorry, but Americans are really strange set of people, the way the think can be so bizarre that one begin to wonder are they realy normal?? We all know that the greatness of America is just as a result of the genius of few, the rest are as ignorant as their Sarah Palin, who could see Russian from his home, and beleive Africa is one country!!
Ask them the name of their Speaker or their capital of their country.. and get shocked how many knows that.
The issue is that they are too aggressive and like to bully their way around, yet when they have a war that needs planning they will just go there and mess up by shooting here and there yet at no target.. They have the war equipments, but they know not how to use them. If anyone doubt, how many unilateral war have they won? They are frineds with Israel but they never learn one or two things from Israel, like how to make the best judgement..

joy mcclymont hendry
joy mcclymont hendry
13 years ago

Sleep tight Edward Xx