Carroll Pickett

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Carroll Pickett
Carroll L. Pickett

1933 (age 85–86)
ResidenceHuntsville, Texas
Other namesBud
EducationOrdained minister
Alma materVictoria College
Austin College
EmployerTexas Department of Corrections (ret.)
Known forPrison ministry, opposition to capital punishment
Home townVictoria, Texas
Spouse(s)Sonja Campbell Pocket
Jane Pickett (m. 1990)

Reverend Carroll L. "Bud" Pickett (born 1933)[1] is a Presbyterian minister in Huntsville, Texas. In the 1960s and 1970s, Rev. Pickett served as pastor for three churches in Texas.[2][3][4] In 1980 he began serving as a chaplain in the Huntsville, Texas, prison, where he spent most of the next 15 years working with prisoners facing imminent execution.[3] Since retiring from the Texas Department of Corrections, Rev. Pickett writes and speaks against the death penalty. His 2002 book, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain, won several awards.[5] The 2008 documentary At the Death House Door: No Man Should Die Alone chronicles his prison ministry.[6]

Early life and ministry[edit]

Born in Nursery, Texas, Pickett attended Pattie Welder High School[1] in Victoria and graduated from Victoria College,[1][7] then Austin College in 1954 and seminary in 1957.[3][7][8][9] He married Sonja Campbell of Victoria and raised 4 children. After divorcing, he married his second wife Jane in 1990.[1][3][4][10]

Early in his career, he served a Presbyterian church in Sinton.[2] From 1961 to 1967, he served as Associate Pastor for First Presbyterian Church in Victoria.[1][4] From 1967 to 1980, he served as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Huntsville, Texas.[3][4]

Attitudes towards the death penalty[edit]

In 1974, the Carrasco Prison Siege took the lives of two of Rev. Pickett's parishioners.[11] After this, he was in favor of the death penalty. This was in direct conflict with the Presbyterian Church's established opposition to the death penalty.[12]

During his tenure as a prison chaplain in the 1980s and 1990s, his views changed. In 1989 he sought psychiatric help to deal with work-related issues. He came to believe that one prisoner, Carlos DeLuna, was wrongly executed. He could not reveal his changed attitudes without jeopardizing his job and he felt a calling to continue to minister to prisoners on the last day of their lives. On the day of his retirement in 1995, he announced that he was against the death penalty.[1][6][13] In 2008, he called execution "Biblically wrong."[1]

In a September 2008 interview, he mentions that his attitude change was a long process, and was in part due to the execution of several men who he now believes were innocent.[1][2]

In all, Rev. Pickett "walked with 95 inmates the last 10 steps to the Death House Door" in his 15 years with the prison system.[1]

Campaign against the death penalty[edit]

In addition to writing a book[3] and being the subject of a documentary[6] about his time as the Death House chaplain, Rev. Pickett speaks and writes against the death penalty.[5]


  • 2002, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain, Violet Crown Award[14]
  • 2005, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain, PEN Southwest Book Awards, finalist, non-fiction[15]


  • Stowers, Carlton, and Carroll Pickett, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain, ISBN 978-0-312-28717-7, St. Martin's Press, 2002, Google Books

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Brandon, Aprill, "Death Row Chaplain," Victoria Advocate, 2008-03-09, p. A1, A5. Sidebars: "Bio" p. A5, "Show Times" p. A5, photos and illustrations: "Caroll Picket" p. A1, "Within These Walls" p. A1, "Death House" p. A5, "Carroll Picket" p. A5, "The Rev. Carool Pickett's family in 1967" p. A5, "De Luna" p. A5
  2. ^ a b c McCain, Colleen Rev. Carroll Pickett: The evolution of a death penalty opponent (interview), Dallas Morning News, 2008-10-01, retrieved 2008-10-01
  3. ^ a b c d e f Stowers, Carlton, and Carroll Pickett, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain, ISBN 978-0-312-28717-7, St. Martin's Press, 2002, Google Books
  4. ^ a b c d Return To Victoria The Victoria Advocate, 1961-08-06.
  5. ^ a b From out of Texas to Everywhere! Archived June 25, 2008, at the Wayback Machine The Presbyterian Sun, August 2006, retrieved 2008-05-19
  6. ^ a b c At the Death House Door Archived May 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine official web site, retrieved 2008-05-19
  7. ^ a b VC spring registration begins Monday, The Victoria Advocate, 2008-11-29
  8. ^ Page, Oscar C., "A Decade of Leadership: Austin College President's Report 2003-2004" Archived September 13, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 2008-05-19
  9. ^ Frontline: The Execution: Readings: Interview With Reverend Carroll Pickett, retrieved 2008-05-19
  10. ^ Stowers, Carlton, Death Angel, Dallas Observer, September 14, 2000, retrieved 2008-05-19
  11. ^ Harper, William T., Eleven Days in Hell: The 1974 Carrasco Prison Siege in Huntsville, Texas, ISBN 1-57441-180-2, 2004, University of North Texas Press, p. 202, 290–291, Google Books
  12. ^ PC(USA) – Presbyterian 101 – Capital Punishment Archived May 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 2008-05-19
  13. ^ Lee, Felicia R. His Life With the Deaths That the State Carried Out, The New York Times, May 27, 2008, retrieved 2008-09-14
  14. ^ 2002 Violet Crown & Teddy Book Awards presented in Austin Archived July 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, ArtsTexas, Texas Commission on the Arts, Winter 2002, retrieved 2008-05-19. Dead link as of 2008-12-02, copy at
  15. ^ 2005 PEN Southwest Book Awards, retrieved 2008-05-19. Dead link as of 2008-12-02, copy at Retrieved September 9, 2016. Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]