Just outside the death-watch cell at North Carolina's Central Prison. Some inmates are allowed to spend time in this area. Their last meal is served at this table.

Last 24 Hours

In the final 24 hours before the execution, a prisoner can be visited by several people, including family, friends, attorneys and spiritual advisors. These visits take place in the death watch area or a special visitation room, and are halted sometime during that last day.

In the final few hours, several events take place in preparation for the execution. They do not necessarily occur in the order listed here and don't apply to every state:

  • Last meal is provided - Prisons try to provide whatever meal is requested by the condemned prisoner.
  • Warden and chaplain visit - The warden and the state-appointed chaplain visit with the inmate and stay until the end of the execution.
  • Witnesses arrive - There is no contact allowed between witnesses and the condemned prisoner. Witnesses are typically restricted to the witness room adjacent to the execution chamber, and are instructed to remain silent.
  • Inmate makes final preparations - In some states, male inmates are given a fresh pair of pants and a shirt, female inmates a dress, and the prisoner is allowed to shower before getting dressed. In other states, the inmate must remove all outer clothing.
  • Heart monitor is connected - The inmate is connected to an electrocardiogram (EKG) machine, which will be monitored for flat line to determine when the heart stops and death has occurred.

Once the inmate is dressed, he or she waits in the death-watch cell with a spiritual advisor until the warden gives the signal to bring the prisoner to the execution chamber. The prisoner is brought to the chamber just a few minutes before the scheduled execution.