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Bill Hemmer: Life goes on despite unfolding drama in Terre Haute

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Bill Hemmer  


TERRE HAUTE, Indiana (CNN) -- The Federal Prison sits about two miles from the center of Terre Haute, Indiana.

It is a large facility located on a 33-acre field. Residences dot the area outside around the periphery.

The atmosphere in this town, population 60,000, is somewhat incongruous. Residents remark how the traffic has noticeably increased because of the small invasion of media.

Still, life appears quite normal. Locals go through their normal weekend activities -- children's baseball games and swim meets -- while the Federal Prison buzzes with reporters and other members of the media who have converged on this western Indiana town.

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CNN's Bill Hemmer reports on the events that will lead to McVeigh's execution (June 8)

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More than 1,500 credentials have been issued for various media outlets worldwide.

The television networks are operating out of auxiliary trailers set up on the penitentiary grounds. The prison sits about 300 yards behind the work areas. Security, as expected, is tight. Prison officials control most of the information about Timothy McVeigh. Very little is revealed about his activities in his final hours. There is a strict schedule for every death row inmate. When McVeigh is moved into his holding cell (called the Death House here in Terre Haute), the schedule is broken down hour by hour.

I'm here to report on a story that is clearly about death, but I am struck by the reminders of life -- warm summer evenings, green fields of growing grass around the prison.

Prison officials are clearly concerned about how this execution is carried out. Mock exercises and rehearsals apparently have taken place to ensure the first federal execution since 1963 comes off without a hitch. A 54-page step-by-step procedure is to be followed precisely. Early Monday morning we will all know how it goes.


Greta@LAW






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