Author: Robert Blecker
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: 2013-11-19
Genre: Political Science
For twelve years Robert Blecker, a criminal law professor, wandered freely inside Lorton Central Prison, armed only with cigarettes and a tape recorder. The Death of Punishment tests legal philosophy against the reality and wisdom of street criminals and their guards. Some killers' poignant circumstances should lead us to mercy; others show clearly why they should die. After thousands of hours over twenty-five years inside maximum security prisons and on death rows in seven states, the history and philosophy professor exposes the perversity of justice: Inside prison, ironically, it's nobody's job to punish. Thus the worst criminals often live the best lives. The Death of Punishment challenges the reader to refine deeply held beliefs on life and death as punishment that flare up with every news story of a heinous crime. It argues that society must redesign life and death in prison to make the punishment more nearly fit the crime. It closes with the final irony: If we make prison the punishment it should be, we may well abolish the very death penalty justice now requires.
#1 New York Times Bestseller | Named one of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times • The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • The Seattle Times • Esquire • Time Winner of the Carnegie Medal for Nonfiction | Winner of the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction | Winner of a Books for a Better Life Award | Finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize | Finalist for the Kirkus Reviews Prize | An American Library Association Notable Book A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever. Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice. Praise for Just Mercy “Every bit as moving as To Kill a Mockingbird, and in some ways more so . . . a searing indictment of American criminal justice and a stirring testament to the salvation that fighting for the vulnerable sometimes yields.”—David Cole, The New York Review of Books “Searing, moving . . . Bryan Stevenson may, indeed, be America’s Mandela.”—Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times “You don’t have to read too long to start cheering for this man. . . . The message of this book . . . is that evil can be overcome, a difference can be made. Just Mercy will make you upset and it will make you hopeful.”—Ted Conover, The New York Times Book Review “Inspiring . . . a work of style, substance and clarity . . . Stevenson is not only a great lawyer, he’s also a gifted writer and storyteller.”—The Washington Post “As deeply moving, poignant and powerful a book as has been, and maybe ever can be, written about the death penalty.”—The Financial Times “Brilliant.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer “Not since Atticus Finch has a fearless and committed lawyer made such a difference in the American South. Though larger than life, Atticus exists only in fiction. Bryan Stevenson, however, is very much alive and doing God’s work fighting for the poor, the oppressed, the voiceless, the vulnerable, the outcast, and those with no hope. Just Mercy is his inspiring and powerful story.”—John Grisham “Bryan Stevenson is one of my personal heroes, perhaps the most inspiring and influential crusader for justice alive today, and Just Mercy is extraordinary. The stories told within these pages hold the potential to transform what we think we mean when we talk about justice.”—Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow
Author: David M. Oshinsky
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 1997-04-22
Genre: Social Science
In this sensitively told tale of suffering, brutality, and inhumanity, Worse Than Slavery is an epic history of race and punishment in the deepest South from emancipation to the civil rights era—and beyond. Immortalized in blues songs and movies like Cool Hand Luke and The Defiant Ones, Mississippi’s infamous Parchman State Penitentiary was, in the pre-civil rights south, synonymous with cruelty. Now, noted historian David Oshinsky gives us the true story of the notorious prison, drawing on police records, prison documents, folklore, blues songs, and oral history, from the days of cotton-field chain gangs to the 1960s, when Parchman was used to break the wills of civil rights workers who journeyed south on Freedom Rides.
Author: Brandon L. Garrett
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Release Date: 2017-09-25
Today, death sentences in the U.S. are as rare as lightning strikes. Brandon Garrett shows us the reasons why, and explains what the failed death penalty experiment teaches about the effect of inept lawyering, overzealous prosecution, race discrimination, wrongful convictions, and excessive punishments throughout the criminal justice system.
Author: Raymond Bonner
Release Date: 2013
From Pulitzer Prize winner Raymond Bonner, the gripping story of a grievously mishandled murder case that put a twenty-three-year-old man on death row. In January 1982, an elderly white widow was found brutally murdered in the small town of Greenwood, South Carolina. Police immediately arrested Edward Lee Elmore, a semiliterate, mentally retarded black man with no previous felony record. His only connection to the victim was having cleaned her gutters and windows, but barely ninety days after the victim's body was found, he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. Elmore had been on death row for eleven years when a young attorney named Diana Holt first learned of his case. With the exemplary moral commitment and tenacious investigation that have distinguished his reporting career, Bonner follows Holt's battle to save Elmore's life and shows us how his case is a textbook example of what can go wrong in the American justice system. Moving, enraging, suspenseful, and enlightening, Anatomy of Injustice is a vital contribution to our nation's ongoing, increasingly important debate about inequality and the death penalty.
Author: Kevin Davis
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 2008-09-02
A member of Chicago's elite Murder Task Force unit describes the lives of its public defenders, many of whom juggle dozens of clients and death-row cases simultaneously, in a sobering account that focuses on the dramatic trial of an accused cop killer. Reprint.
Author: Jen Marlowe
Publisher: Haymarket Books
Release Date: 2013-08-19
Genre: Social Science
"Those of us who know Troy Davis, who sat with him, who talked to him, know that he was somebody who was full of love, full of love for his family, full of love for humanity, full of love for a movement he was born into, a movement for civil and human rights in this country."—Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP "Martina Correia's heroic fight to save her brother's life while battling for her own serves as a powerful testament for activists."—Liliana Segura, The Nation In 1991 On September 21, 2011 Troy Anthony Davis was put to death by the State of Georgia. Davis’ execution was protested by hundreds of thousands of people across the globe, and Pope Benedict XVI, President Jimmy Carter, and 51 members of Congress all appealed for clemency. How did one man capture the world’s imagination, and become the iconic face for the campaign to end the death penalty? I Am Troy Davis, coauthored by Jen Marlowe and Davis’ sister Martina, tells the intimate story of an ordinary man caught up in an inexorable tragedy. From his childhood in racially-charged Savannah; to the confused events that led to the 1989 shooting of a police officer; to Davis’ sudden arrest, conviction, and two-decade fight to prove his innocence; I Am Troy Davis takes us inside a broken legal system where life and death hangs in the balance. It is also an inspiring testament to the unbreakable bond of family, to the resilience of love, and that even when you reach the end of justice, voices from across the world will rise together in chorus and proclaim, “I am Troy Davis," I stand with you. Jen Marlowe, a human rights activist, writer, and filmmaker, is the author of The Hour of Sunlight: One Palestinian's Journey from Prisoner to Peacemaker and Darfur Diaries: Stories of Survival. Martina Davis-Correia was Amnesty USA's co-Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator for Georgia. Martina was also a leading advocate for women with breast cancer. She was twice named Savannah's "Unstoppable Woman." Sister Helen Prejean wrote the internationally acclaimed book Dead Man Walking. She educates about the death penalty by lecturing, organizing, and writing.
Author: Elizabeth Beck
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 2007-02-08
Genre: Social Science
The press called Martin's actions a "crime spree." Already convicted of armed robbery, Martin was facing the death penalty. In less than two weeks the jury would decide his fate. Terrified that his son would be sentenced to die, Phillip did the only thing he felt he could do: in an act of faith and desperation in his garage with the car exhaust running, Phillip made the consummate sacrifice to spare his son the ultimate punishment. Ironically, his suicide presented Martin's with another chance at life; the jury, moved by Martin's loss, spared his life. Phillip's story-like those of the other parents, siblings, children, and cousins chronicled in this book-vividly illustrates the precarious position family members of capital offenders occupy in the criminal justice system. At once outsiders and victims, they live in the shadow of death, crushed by trauma, grief, and helplessness. In this penetrating account of guilt and innocence, shame and triumph, devastating loss and ultimate redemption, the voices of these family members add a new dimension to debates about capital punishment and how communities can prevent and address crime. Restorative justice theory, which views violent crime as an extreme violation of relationships; searches for ways to hold offenders accountable; and meets the needs of victims and communities torn apart by the crime, organizes these narratives and integrates offenders' families into the process of transforming conflict and promoting justice and healing for all. What emerges from hundreds of hours' worth of in-depth interviews with family members of offenders and victims, legal teams, and leaders in the abolition and restorative justice movements is a vision of justice strongly rooted in the social fabric of communities. Showing that forgiveness and recovery are possible in the wake of even the most heinous crimes, while holding victims' stories sacred, this eye-opening book bridges the pain of living in the shadow of death with the possibility of a reparative form of justice. Anyone working with victims, offenders, and their families-from lawyers and social workers to mediators and activists-will find this riveting work indispensable to their efforts.
Author: Dale S. Recinella
Publisher: Northeastern University Press
Release Date: 2015-12-01
While secular support for capital punishment in America seems to be waning, religious conservatives, particularly in the "Bible belt," remain staunch advocates of the death penalty, citing biblical law and practice to defend government-sanctioned killing. Dale S. Recinella compares biblical teaching about the death penalty, including such passages as "eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life," with the nation's current system of capital punishment, and offers persuasive arguments for a faith-based moratorium on -- and eventual abolition of -- executions. Framing his careful and incisive analysis as a legal brief to those who believe the Bible mandates the ultimate punishment, the author addresses two critical areas of inquiry: what do the scriptures tell us about who is deserving of death and who has the authority to kill, and what do they tell us about the required standards for execution and the plight of victims' families. Recinella's examination of the Hebrew Torah, or Christian Pentateuch, and the Talmud reveals that the biblical death penalty was not a simple system of swift retribution, but a complex and practical set of laws that guided capital courts established under the Sanhedrin. His scrutiny of these texts, the Christian doctrine of atonement, and Romans 13 in the Pauline Epistles, draws parallels between the traditional biblical arguments used in favor of capital punishment and those used as the basis for pro-slavery positions in the nineteenth century. Demonstrating that both approaches are unsubstantiated in biblical terms, Recinella debunks the accepted religious reasoning for support of the death penalty and shows instead that the Bible's strict conditions for sanctioning execution are at odds with the arbitrary ways in which capital punishment is administered in the United States. He provides convincing evidence that a sentence of death in today's criminal justice system in fact fails to meet both the Bible's exacting procedural requirements and its strict limitations on judicial authority. By providing actual scriptural language and foundation to counter the position that biblical truth justifies a pro-death penalty stance, this thoughtful, solidly researched, and well-reasoned work will give pause to religious fundamentalists and challenge them to rethink their strongly held views on capital punishment.
Author: Laurence H. Tribe
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 2008-09-17
As everyone knows, the United States Constitution is a tangible, visible document. Many see it in fact as a sacred text, holding no meaning other than that which is clearly visible on the page. Yet as renowned legal scholar Laurence Tribe shows, what is not written in the Constitution plays a key role in its interpretation. Indeed some of the most contentious Constitutional debates of our time hinge on the extent to which it can admit of divergent readings. In The Invisible Constitution, Tribe argues that there is an unseen constitution--impalpable but powerful--that accompanies the parchment version. It is the visible document's shadow, its dark matter: always there and possessing some of its key meanings and values despite its absence on the page. As Tribe illustrates, some of our most cherished and widely held beliefs about constitutional rights are not part of the written document, but can only be deduced by piecing together hints and clues from it. Moreover, some passages of the Constitution do not even hold today despite their continuing existence. Amendments may have fundamentally altered what the Constitution originally said about slavery and voting rights, yet the old provisos about each are still in the text, unrevised. Through a variety of historical episodes and key constitutional cases, Tribe brings to life this invisible constitution, showing how it has evolved and how it works. Detailing its invisible structures and principles, Tribe compellingly demonstrates the invisible constitution's existence and operative power. Remarkably original, keenly perceptive, and written with Tribe's trademark analytical flair, this latest volume in Oxford's Inalienable Rights series offers a new way of understanding many of the central constitutional debates of our time. About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.
Author: Carol S. Steiker
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Release Date: 2016-11-07
Refusing to eradicate the death penalty, the U.S. has attempted to reform and rationalize capital punishment through federal constitutional law. While execution chambers remain active in several states, Carol Steiker and Jordan Steiker argue that the fate of the American death penalty is likely to be sealed by this failed judicial experiment.
Author: Alexander T. Riley
Publisher: NYU Press
Release Date: 2015-03-13
Genre: Social Science
When United Flight 93, the fourth plane hijacked in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the gash it left in the ground became a national site of mourning. The flight’s 40 passengers became a media obsession, and countless books, movies, and articles told the tale of their heroic fight to band together and sacrifice their lives to stop Flight 93 from becoming a weapon of terror. In Angel Patriots, Alexander Riley argues that by memorializing these individuals as patriots, we have woven them into much larger story of our nation—an existing web of narratives, values, dramatic frameworks, and cultural characters about what it means to be truly American. Riley examines the symbolic impact and role of the Flight 93 disaster in the nation’s collective consciousness, delving into the spontaneous memorial efforts that blossomed in Shanksville immediately after the news of the crash spread; the ad-hoc sites honoring the victims that in time emerged, such as a Parks Department-maintained memorial close to the crash site and a Flight 93 Chapel created by a local Catholic priest; and finally, the creation of an official, permanent crash monument in Shanksville like those built for past American wars. Riley also analyzes the cultural narratives that evolved in films and in books around the events on the day of the crash and the lives and deaths of its “angel patriot” passengers, uncovering how these representations of the event reflect the myth of the authentic American nation—one that Americans believed was gravely threatened in the September 11 attacks. A profound and thought-provoking study, Angel Patriots unveils how, in the wake of 9/11, America mourned much more than the loss of life.
Author: Paul Butler
Publisher: The New Press
Release Date: 2010-06-08
Drawing on his personal fascinating story as a prosecutor, a defendant, and an observer of the legal process, Paul Butler offers a sharp and engaging critique of our criminal justice system. He argues against discriminatory drug laws and excessive police power and shows how our policy of mass incarceration erodes communities and perpetuates crime. Controversially, he supports jury nullification—or voting “not guilty” out of principle—as a way for everyday people to take a stand against unfair laws, and he joins with the “Stop Snitching” movement, arguing that the reliance on informants leads to shoddy police work and distrust within communities. Butler offers instead a “hip hop theory of justice,” parsing the messages about crime and punishment found in urban music and culture. Butler’s argument is powerful, edgy, and incisive.