Pacific Standard posts, "The psychological trauma of witnessing an execution," by Lauren Kirchne. It's via the Week. The article also contains several links to scholarship.
Lyons was and is still a supporter of capital punishment, but individual cases gave her reason to feel conflicted. "There is a difference between supporting the death penalty as a concept and being the person who actually watches its application," as she puts it. Her former boss in the communications department, who also witnessed hundreds of executions, more readily acknowledges the toll it's taken on him. He says he has nightmares, and is haunted by the memories of the people he watched die on the gurney, and by those whose names he can no longer recall.
It's not surprising that executions, even for people who support capital punishment, and even when the criminals being put to death evoke little personal sympathy because of the nature of their crimes, take a toll on witnesses. (And even executions that go smoothly, and that are not horribly botched.) It's surprising when there are people who don't seem affected by the experience in any way.
A few years ago, The New York Times profiled Houston-based reporter Michael Graczyk, who witnessed over 300 executions while reporting on court cases for The Associated Press in Texas. He has a "low-key, matter-of-fact lack of sentiment," according to The Times. Graczyk says he prefers to watch executions from the viewing room with the victim's family members in it, simply because that way he "can get out faster and file the story faster."
Perhaps Graczyk's remarkable ability to stay cool and unaffected by the process is precisely why he was kept on that beat for so long. As Cynthia Barnett has recounted in the American Journalism Review, for most reporters, covering a state-sponsored murder is not like another day at the office.
Colloff's latest Texas Monthly article is noted at the link.