professional project: on the other side

June 19, 2010

Two weeks ago, I finally received an answer from Jacqueline Lapine at the Missouri Department of Corrections regarding my request for an interview with Deandra Buchanan. She asked me to send sample questions, so I sent her a list with questions and a personal letter in which I introduced myself and my project. Ms. Lapine forwarded both to Buchanan and he agreed to speak to me on camera.

Yesterday I went to Jefferson City Correctional Center to finally meet Buchanan. Escorted by the activity director of the facility and D.O.C. staffer Jeananne Markway I went through the security check and set up my camera in the visitors’ room. Buchanan was supposed to arrive a few minutes later, but someone in the chain of command had not been informed about the interview and so we had to wait for about half an hour until they brought him from his cell. Unfortunately for me, this meant that my time with him was cut short significantly because he had to be back in his cell block for the next count.

For the first fifteen minutes, Deandra was negotiating the terms of the interview with me and by the time we got started talking, I had only about half an hour left. Thankfully, the prison staff was quite generous and gave me another ten minutes or so to finish up the interview. I did have to leave out a few questions, but I think the material I have is good enough to add another dimension to the project.

Here are some raw edits of the audio footage:

Buchanan recounts the night of the crime:

On his reaction to the death sentence:

On dealing with guilt and remorse:

On his reaction to Valeria Brown’s visit and forgiveness:

On his outlook on life:

Buchanan’s advice to someone in his situation:

About the criminal justice system:

Filed under: USA

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