the execution | frontline online
photo of clifford boggess
cliff over alan's shoulder

For Educators

FRONTLINE's documentary, "The Execution," examines capital punishment through the life and crimes of self-confessed double murderer Clifford Boggess. He was executed by lethal injection in Texas in June 1998 after spending almost ten years on death row.

"What if we knew everything about a death row killer and what he had done--what would we think? Would it still make sense to execute him?"

These are the provocative questions explored in FRONTLINE's documentary and further developed here in this companion web site.

This site offers material for evaluating Clifford Boggess and discussing what creates a murderer. The site also presents unique material on the history of capital punishment; pro/con arguments on the death penalty; a report on why Texas executes the most people; and more. Here are a few suggestions:


  • Who was Boggess? -- Start with this overview. FRONTLINE correspondent Alan Austin spent more than three years interviewing Clifford Boggess and investigating his life and crimes and the impact of his crimes on the families of his victims.

  • Was Boggess a psychopath? -- Here is an expert's answer to that question, based on screening the documentary and reading background material.

  • The Psychopathy Checklist -- This offers the characteristics of a psychopath's personal and interpersonal behavior patterns

  • View the videotapes of Clifford Boggess describing the brutal murders he committed.

  • Boggess's death row artwork and his letters offer futher insight into his mind and soul and can provide interesting classroom discussion.

  • Does it help the relatives of victims to witness the execution of their loved one's murderer? Here's an analysis which argues it doesn't help.

  • Did Boggess change? His pen pal from Germany explains why she feels he did undergo a transformation on death row.


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