Bryan Stevenson’s review of Walter McMillan’s case includes the numerous irregularities of his detention before and after McMillan’s trial. One key problem was that McMillan was incarcerated on death row in Alabama’s Holman Prison. However, McMillan had not been convicted of any crime; he was placed there even before he was tried.
The conditions on death row are inhumane. The cells are only 5 x 8 feet, and the prisoners must remain in them for 23 ½ hours per day. The inmates would converse about the highly visible Yellow Mama electric chair, decades old but still in use, frightening each other even more with stories about the painful deaths others had suffered due to its frequent malfunctioning. Walter was terrified, hopeless, and disoriented; the officials had shaved his head, and as a result, he had difficulty recognizing his own reflection.