TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Dana Winklepleck witnessed 11 federal executions. She says she’s often asked about the execution process.

According to Winklepleck, media witnesses are given a specific time to be at the media center at the federal prison in Terre Haute. You can not be early and you can not be late.

After a temperature check because of COVID concerns, media witnesses are issued badges so they can be inside the prison complex. Vans then take all of the media witnesses to be cleared by security.

Winklepleck describes it as “airport security on steroids.” The goal is to make sure reporters have no contraband or recording devices.

Once they’ve cleared security, media witnesses are either taken back to the media center to wait or straight to the execution chamber building.

The execution chamber building has a large room in the middle where an execution takes place. It’s surrounded by smaller rooms for witnesses. The media witness room contains plastic chairs, a restroom and two large windows that look into the execution chamber.

When the execution process is about to begin, the blinds on the windows raise. Winklepleck says the execution room looks kind of like an operating room. The inmate is strapped to a gurney with their arms somewhat outstretched.

Tubes and wires run from back wall of the room and are attached to the inmate. The tubes will be used to deliver the lethal dose of pentobarbital. The wires are to check things like an inmate’s heartbeat and other telemetry.

The inmate is asked if they have any final words. Winklepleck witnessed some of the inmates speak, while others chose not to say anything.

A senior official then reads the inmate the charges the were convicted of and asks a representative with the U.S. Marshall’s office if there are any impediments to the execution.

The person from the U.S. Marshall’s office picks up a black phone that’s in the execution room. On the other end is the command center for the U.S. Department of Justice. This call is the final check to make sure there are no appeals or pardons that would delay or prevent the execution. If there are not, the execution begins.

Once the execution is over, the inmate’s time of death is announced and the blinds lower. The media witnesses are returned to the media center.

If a victim’s family member wishes to speak to reporters, they are brought to the media center building as well for interviews to take place.