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Let the Lord Sort Them

Author : Maurice Chammah
Publisher : Crown
Release : 2021-01-26
Category : Law
ISBN : 9781524760274


Book Let the Lord Sort Them Description/Summary:

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS’ CHOICE • A deeply reported, searingly honest portrait of the death penalty in Texas—and what it tells us about crime and punishment in America “Remarkably intimate, fair-minded, and trustworthy reporting on the people arguing over the fate of human life.”—Robert Kolker, New York Times bestselling author of Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family WINNER OF THE J. ANTHONY LUKAS WORK-IN-PROGRESS AWARD In 1972, the United States Supreme Court made a surprising ruling: the country's death penalty system violated the Constitution. The backlash was swift, especially in Texas, where executions were considered part of the cultural fabric, and a dark history of lynching was masked by gauzy visions of a tough-on-crime frontier. When executions resumed, Texas quickly became the nationwide leader in carrying out the punishment. Then, amid a larger wave of criminal justice reform, came the death penalty’s decline, a trend so durable that even in Texas the punishment appears again close to extinction. In Let the Lord Sort Them, Maurice Chammah charts the rise and fall of capital punishment through the eyes of those it touched. We meet Elsa Alcala, the orphaned daughter of a Mexican American family who found her calling as a prosecutor in the nation's death penalty capital, before becoming a judge on the state's highest court. We meet Danalynn Recer, a lawyer who became obsessively devoted to unearthing the life stories of men who committed terrible crimes, and fought for mercy in courtrooms across the state. We meet death row prisoners—many of them once-famous figures like Henry Lee Lucas, Gary Graham, and Karla Faye Tucker—along with their families and the families of their victims. And we meet the executioners, who struggle openly with what society has asked them to do. In tracing these interconnected lives against the rise of mass incarceration in Texas and the country as a whole, Chammah explores what the persistence of the death penalty tells us about forgiveness and retribution, fairness and justice, history and myth. Written with intimacy and grace, Let the Lord Sort Them is the definitive portrait of a particularly American institution.

Let the Lord Sort Them

Author : Maurice Chammah
Publisher : Crown Publishing Group (NY)
Release : 2021
Category : History
ISBN : 9781524760267


Book Let the Lord Sort Them Description/Summary:

In 1972 the United States Supreme Court made a surprising ruling: the country's death penalty system violated the Constitution. The backlash was swift, especially in Texas, where executions were considered part of the cultural fabric, and a dark history of lynching was masked by gauzy visions of a tough-on-crime frontier. When executions resumed, Texas quickly became the nationwide leader in carrying out the punishment. Amid a larger wave of criminal justice reform came the death penalty's decline, a trend so durable that even in Texas the punishment appears again close to extinction. Chammah charts the rise and fall of capital punishment through the eyes of those it touched. -- adapted from publisher info

The Decline of the Death Penalty and the Discovery of Innocence

Author : Frank R. Baumgartner,Suzanna L. De Boef,Amber E. Boydstun
Publisher : Cambridge University Press
Release : 2008-01-07
Category : Political Science
ISBN : 9781139469203


Book The Decline of the Death Penalty and the Discovery of Innocence Description/Summary:

Since 1996, death sentences in America have declined by more than 60 percent, reversing a generation-long trend toward greater acceptance of capital punishment. In theory, most Americans continue to support the death penalty. But it is no longer seen as a theoretical matter. Prosecutors, judges, and juries across the country have moved in large numbers to give much greater credence to the possibility of mistakes - mistakes that in this arena are potentially fatal. The discovery of innocence, documented in this book through painstaking analyses of media coverage and with newly developed methods, has led to historic shifts in public opinion and to a sharp decline in use of the death penalty by juries across the country. A social cascade, starting with legal clinics and innocence projects, has snowballed into a national phenomenon that may spell the end of the death penalty in America.

Among the Lowest of the Dead

Author : David Von Drehle
Publisher : University of Michigan Press
Release : 2010-06-04
Category : Law
ISBN : 9780472026982


Book Among the Lowest of the Dead Description/Summary:

Thorough and unbiased, Among the Lowest of the Dead is a gripping narrative that provides an unprecedented journalistic look into the actual workings of the capital punishment system. "Has all the tension of the best true crime stories . . . This is journalism at its best." --Library Journal "A compelling argument against capital punishment. . . . Examining politicians, judges (including Supreme Court Justices), prosecutors, defense attorneys and the condemned themselves, the author makes an effective case that, despite new laws, execution is no less a lottery than it has always been." --Publishers Weekly "In a fine and important book, Von Drehle writes elegantly and powerfully. . . . Anyone certain of their opinion about the death penalty ought to read this book." -- Booklist "An extremely well-informed and richly insightful book of great value to students of the death penalty as well as intelligent general readers with a serious interest in the subject, Among the Lowest of the Dead is also exciting reading. The book is an ideal guide for new generations of readers who want to form knowledgeable judgments in the continuing--and recently accelerating--controversies about capital punishment." --Anthony Amsterdam, New York University "Among the Lowest of the Dead is a powerfully written and meticulously researched book that makes an invaluable contribution to the growing public dialogue about capital punishment in America. It's one of those rare books that bridges the gap between mass audiences and scholarly disciplines, the latter including sociology, political science, criminology and journalism. The book is required reading in my Investigative Journalism classes--and my students love it!" --David Protess, Northwestern University "Among The Lowest of the Dead deserves a permanent place in the literature as literature, and is most relevant to today's death penalty debate as we moderate advocates and abolitionists search for common ground." --Robert Blecker, New York Law School David Von Drehle is Senior Writer, The Washington Post and author of Triangle: The Fire that Changed America.

Capital Defense

Author : Jon B. Gould,Maya Pagni Barak
Publisher : NYU Press
Release : 2019-06-18
Category : Social Science
ISBN : 9781479822225


Book Capital Defense Description/Summary:

The unsung heroes who defend the accused from the ultimate punishment What motivates someone to make a career out of defending some of the worst suspected killers of our time? In Capital Defense, Jon B. Gould and Maya Pagni Barak give us a glimpse into the lives of lawyers who choose to work in the darkest corner of our criminal justice system: death penalty cases. Based on in-depth personal interviews with a cross-section of the nation’s top capital defense teams, the book explores the unusual few who voluntarily represent society’s “worst of the worst.” With a compassionate and careful eye, Gould and Barak chronicle the experiences of American lawyers, who—like soldiers or surgeons—operate under the highest of stakes, where verdicts have the power to either “take death off the table” or put clients on “the conveyor belt towards death.” These lawyers are a rare breed in a field that is otherwise seen as dirty work and in a system that is overburdened, under-resourced, and overshadowed by social, cultural, and political pressures. Examining the ugliest side of our criminal justice system, Capital Defense offers an up-close perspective on the capital litigation process and its impact on the people who participate in it.

Death Penalty Stories

Author : John H. Blume,Jordan M. Steiker
Publisher : Foundation Press
Release : 2009
Category : Law
ISBN : 1599413434


Book Death Penalty Stories Description/Summary:

This title offers rich and detailed accounts of the most important capital cases in American law. In addition to comprehensive coverage of the "canonical cases" such as Furman v. Georgia, Gregg v. Georgia, Penry v. Lynaugh, Payne v. Tennessee, and McCleskey v. Kemp, the volume also presents in-depth accounts of cases involving core capital issues, including:RepresentationProtections for the innocentProportionality limitsExecution methodsThe problem of "volunteers"The guarantee of heightened reliability.

End of Its Rope

Author : Brandon L. Garrett
Publisher : Harvard University Press
Release : 2017-09-25
Category : Law
ISBN : 9780674981966


Book End of Its Rope Description/Summary:

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.

Lethal State

Author : Seth Kotch
Publisher : UNC Press Books
Release : 2019-01-10
Category : History
ISBN : 9781469649887


Book Lethal State Description/Summary:

For years, American states have tinkered with the machinery of death, seeking to align capital punishment with evolving social standards and public will. Against this backdrop, North Carolina had long stood out as a prolific executioner with harsh mandatory sentencing statutes. But as the state sought to remake its image as modern and business-progressive in the early twentieth century, the question of execution preoccupied lawmakers, reformers, and state boosters alike. In this book, Seth Kotch recounts the history of the death penalty in North Carolina from its colonial origins to the present. He tracks the attempts to reform and sanitize the administration of death in a state as dedicated to its image as it was to rigid racial hierarchies. Through this lens, Lethal State helps explain not only Americans' deep and growing uncertainty about the death penalty but also their commitment to it. Kotch argues that Jim Crow justice continued to reign in the guise of a modernizing, orderly state and offers essential insight into the relationship between race, violence, and power in North Carolina. The history of capital punishment in North Carolina, as in other states wrestling with similar issues, emerges as one of state-building through lethal punishment.

The Autobiography of an Execution

Author : David R. Dow
Publisher : Twelve
Release : 2010-02-03
Category : Biography & Autobiography
ISBN : 9780446573948


Book The Autobiography of an Execution Description/Summary:

Near the beginning of The Autobiography of an Execution, David Dow lays his cards on the table. "People think that because I am against the death penalty and don't think people should be executed, that I forgive those people for what they did. Well, it isn't my place to forgive people, and if it were, I probably wouldn't. I'm a judgmental and not very forgiving guy. Just ask my wife." It this spellbinding true crime narrative, Dow takes us inside of prisons, inside the complicated minds of judges, inside execution-administration chambers, into the lives of death row inmates (some shown to be innocent, others not) and even into his own home--where the toll of working on these gnarled and difficult cases is perhaps inevitably paid. He sheds insight onto unexpected phenomena-- how even religious lawyer and justices can evince deep rooted support for putting criminals to death-- and makes palpable the suspense that clings to every word and action when human lives hang in the balance.

A Wild Justice: The Death and Resurrection of Capital Punishment in America

Author : Evan J. Mandery
Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company
Release : 2013-08-19
Category : Law
ISBN : 9780393239584


Book A Wild Justice: The Death and Resurrection of Capital Punishment in America Description/Summary:

Discusses the history of the two Supreme Court cases that were responsible for changing the laws regarding the death penalty in America and polarizing the nation.

Race and the Death Penalty

Author : David P. Keys,R. J. Maratea
Publisher : Lynne Rienner Publishers
Release : 2016
Category : African American criminals
ISBN : 1626373566


Book Race and the Death Penalty Description/Summary:

In what has been called the Dred Scott decision of our times, the US Supreme Court found in McCleskey v. Kemp that evidence of overwhelming racial disparities in the capital punishment process could not be admitted in individual capital cases, in effect institutionalizing a racially unequal system of criminal justice. Exploring the enduring legacy of this radical decision nearly three decades later, the authors of Race and the Death Penalty examine the persistence of racial discrimination in the practice of capital punishment, the dynamics that drive it, and the human consequences of both. David P. Keys is associate professor of criminal justice at New Mexico State University. R.J. Maratea is assistant professor of criminal justice at New Mexico State University.

Death Row, Texas: Inside the Execution Chamber

Author : Michelle Lyons
Publisher : Simon and Schuster
Release : 2018-11-27
Category : True Crime
ISBN : 9781612438900


Book Death Row, Texas: Inside the Execution Chamber Description/Summary:

What really happens inside America's most active death row chamber? "I can’t remember his name or his crime. What I remember is the nothingness. No family members, no friends, no comfort. Maybe he didn’t want them to come, maybe they didn’t care, maybe he didn’t have any in the first place. It was just a prison official and two reporters, including me, looking through the glass at this man strapped fast to the gurney, needles in both arms, staring hard at the ceiling. When the warden stepped forward and asked if he wanted to make a last statement, the man barely shook his head, said nothing and started blinking. That’s when I saw it: a single tear at the corner of his right eye. A tear he desperately wanted to blink away, a tear he didn’t want us to see. It pooled there for a moment before running down his cheek. The warden gave his signal, the chemicals started flowing, the man coughed, sputtered and exhaled. A doctor entered the room, pronounced the man dead and pulled a sheet over his head." — Michelle Lyons, from the Prologue. Michelle Lyons witnessed nearly 300 executions at the Texas State penitentiary. This behind-the-scenes look at those haunting final moments of life relates shocking true stories of the inmate, his/her family members, prison officials, the death-row chaplain and the victim’s loved ones—all of whom come together in the death chamber.

Courting Death

Author : Carol S. Steiker,Jordan M. Steiker
Publisher : Harvard University Press
Release : 2016-11-07
Category : History
ISBN : 9780674737426


Book Courting Death Description/Summary:

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.

The Meaning of Life

Author : Marc Mauer,Ashley Nellis
Publisher : The New Press
Release : 2018-12-11
Category : Law
ISBN : 9781620974100


Book The Meaning of Life Description/Summary:

“I can think of no authors more qualified to research the complex impact of life sentences than Marc Mauer and Ashley Nellis. They have the expertise to track down the information that all citizens need to know and the skills to translate that research into accessible and powerful prose.” —Heather Ann Thompson, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning Blood in the Water From the author of the classic Race to Incarcerate, a forceful and necessary argument for eliminating life sentences, including profiles of six people directly impacted by life sentences by formerly incarcerated author Kerry Myers Most Western democracies have few or no people serving life sentences, yet here in the United States more than 200,000 people are sentenced to such prison terms. Marc Mauer and Ashley Nellis of The Sentencing Project argue that there is no practical or moral justification for a sentence longer than twenty years. Harsher sentences have been shown to have little effect on crime rates, since people “age out” of crime—meaning that we’re spending a fortune on geriatric care for older prisoners who pose little threat to public safety. Extreme punishment for serious crime also has an inflationary effect on sentences across the spectrum, helping to account for severe mandatory minimums and other harsh punishments. A thoughtful and stirring call to action, The Meaning of Life also features moving profiles of a half dozen people affected by life sentences, written by former “lifer” and award-winning writer Kerry Myers. The book will tie in to a campaign spearheaded by The Sentencing Project and offers a much-needed road map to a more humane criminal justice system.

My Year Abroad

Author : Chang-rae Lee
Publisher : Penguin
Release : 2021
Category : Fiction
ISBN : 9781594634574


Book My Year Abroad Description/Summary:

Tiller is an average college student with a good heart but minimal aspirations and talents. Then he meets Pong Lou, a successful Chinese-American businessman, and everything changes. With Pong's unmatched charisma, richly varied interests and skills, enviable resources, and loyal circle of friends and business partners, he represents a life that Tiller has never imagined. When Pong invites Tiller along on a boisterous trip across Asia with no return ticket, Tiller is catapulted from ordinary young man to luxury globetrotter. In the process, he's pulled into a series of wholly unexpected experiences-some humorous, some heartbreaking, some darkly shocking, and all of which will alter the course of his life. A year later, passing through an American airport on his way home from this Asian adventure, Tiller takes up with an unlikely older woman and her son, and quickly slips from one life to another as he processes all he's experienced and what it will mean for his future. Told in alternating storylines, Tiller's tale weaves back and forth between his outlandish, memorable year with Pong, and the domestic adulthood that replaces it. From an award-winning writer known for exploring issues of culture and identity with provocative originality, My Year Abroad is a bold and exciting new novel about the people we meet who change our lives forever, and a brilliant satire/fable about entrepreneurship and the American dream.

Smoke but No Fire

Author : Jessica S. Henry
Publisher : Univ of California Press
Release : 2020-08-04
Category : Social Science
ISBN : 9780520971943


Book Smoke but No Fire Description/Summary:

Rodricus Crawford was sentenced to die for the murder of his beautiful baby boy. After years on death row, evidence confirmed what Crawford had claimed all along: he was innocent, and his son had died from an undiagnosed illness. In Smoke but No Fire, former New York City public defender Jessica S. Henry tells the heartbreaking stories of innocent people convicted of crimes that simply never occurred. A suicide is mislabeled a homicide. An accidental fire is mislabeled an arson. A false allegation of assault is invented to resolve a custody dispute. Henry exposes a deeply flawed criminal justice system that allows—even encourages—these no-crime wrongful convictions to regularly occur. This eye-opening book grapples with the chilling reality that far too many innocent people spend real years behind bars for fictional crimes.


Author : Tom O'Neill
Publisher : Little, Brown
Release : 2019-06-25
Category : True Crime
ISBN : 9780316477574


Book Chaos Description/Summary:

A journalist's twenty-year fascination with the Manson murders leads to shocking new revelations about the FBI's involvement in this riveting reassessment of an infamous case in American history. Over two grim nights in Los Angeles, the young followers of Charles Manson murdered seven people, including the actress Sharon Tate, then eight months pregnant. With no mercy and seemingly no motive, the Manson Family followed their leader's every order -- their crimes lit a flame of paranoia across the nation, spelling the end of the sixties. Manson became one of history's most infamous criminals, his name forever attached to an era when charlatans mixed with prodigies, free love was as possible as brainwashing, and utopia -- or dystopia -- was just an acid trip away. Twenty years ago, when journalist Tom O'Neill was reporting a magazine piece about the murders, he worried there was nothing new to say. Then he unearthed shocking evidence of a cover-up behind the "official" story, including police carelessness, legal misconduct, and potential surveillance by intelligence agents. When a tense interview with Vincent Bugliosi -- prosecutor of the Manson Family and author of Helter Skelter -- turned a friendly source into a nemesis, O'Neill knew he was onto something. But every discovery brought more questions: Who were Manson's real friends in Hollywood, and how far would they go to hide their ties? Why didn't law enforcement, including Manson's own parole officer, act on their many chances to stop him? And how did Manson -- an illiterate ex-con -- turn a group of peaceful hippies into remorseless killers? O'Neill's quest for the truth led him from reclusive celebrities to seasoned spies, from San Francisco's summer of love to the shadowy sites of the CIA's mind-control experiments, on a trail rife with shady cover-ups and suspicious coincidences. The product of two decades of reporting, hundreds of new interviews, and dozens of never-before-seen documents from the LAPD, the FBI, and the CIA, Chaos mounts an argument that could be, according to Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Steven Kay, strong enough to overturn the verdicts on the Manson murders. This is a book that overturns our understanding of a pivotal time in American history.

Against the Death Penalty

Author : Giuseppie Pelli
Publisher : Princeton University Press
Release : 2020-11-10
Category : Law
ISBN : 9780691209883


Book Against the Death Penalty Description/Summary:

"The Italian political and legal thinker Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794) is justly regarded as the founding father of the movement for criminal law reform that emerged in Europe in the mid-18th century. His treatise, On Crimes and Punishments (1764), is a seminal text that has had an enormous and lasting influence on politicians, jurists, philosophers and theologians. In particular, his attack on the death penalty has dominated the historical and philosophical debate. However, an earlier treatise that specifically argues for the abolition of the death penalty has recently come to light. This is Contro la pena di morte (1761), by Giuseppe Pelli (1729-1808). Pelli and Beccaria were not in contact and apparently had no knowledge of the other's work until Beccaria's treatise appeared. Pelli's treatise was never completed and remained unpublished for 250 years. It was discovered in the late 1980's among the papers of the descendants of his adopted daughter, and was published in Italian in 2014. In Against the Death Penalty, Peter Garnsey, a historian of the Roman Empire and Italy, provides the first English translation of this important yet forgotten text. Although Beccaria attacked the whole criminal justice system of his time, Pelli's work was singulr in its focus on attacking on just the death penalty. As such, it was the first attack of any substance that appeared in Europe, and although unfinished, it is a work of considerable sophistication and depth. It is a comprehensive critique, considerably longer and more thorough than that of Beccaria. Pelli was also a man of religious convictions and operated within the Catholic tradition: for his key arguments he drew on the writings of the natural jurists, in particular Grotius and Pufendorf. Garnsey provides a substantial introduction, the bulk of which is a comparative evaluation of the discussions of Pelli and Beccaria on the death penalty and alternative punishments. He also provides historical context for the intellectual and social environment in which the two men lived and from which their works emerged. Although much has been written about Beccarria, little is known or has been written about Pelli's life. Garnsey reconstructs what is important for understanding his text by drawing on the massive diary Pelli left,which has also only recently become available. It not only sheds light on Pelli's intellectual development but provides a fascinating, extraordinarily informative, and revealing day-by-day, profoundly personal account of a man of letters who became a bureaucrat in the service of the Habsburg Monarchy"

Deadly Justice

Author : Frank Baumgartner,Colin Wilson
Publisher : Oxford University Press
Release : 2017
Category : Law
ISBN : 9780190841546


Book Deadly Justice Description/Summary:

In 1976, the US Supreme Court ruled in Gregg v. Georgia that the death penalty was constitutional if it complied with certain specific provisions designed to ensure that it was reserved for the 'worst of the worst.' The same court had rejected the death penalty just four years before in the Furman decision because it found that the penalty had been applied in a capricious and arbitrary manner. The 1976 decision ushered in the 'modern' period of the US death penalty, setting the country on a course to execute over 1,400 inmates in the ensuing years, with over 8,000 individuals currently sentenced to die. Now, forty years after the decision, the eminent political scientist Frank Baumgartner along with a team of younger scholars (Marty Davidson, Kaneesha Johnson, Arvind Krishnamurthy, and Colin Wilson) have collaborated to assess the empirical record and provide a definitive account of how the death penalty has been implemented. Each chapter addresses a precise empirical question and provides evidence, not opinion, about whether how the modern death penalty has functioned. They decided to write the book after Justice Breyer issued a dissent in a 2015 death penalty case in which he asked for a full briefing on the constitutionality of the death penalty. In particular, they assess the extent to which the modern death penalty has met the aspirations of Gregg or continues to suffer from the flaws that caused its rejection in Furman. To answer this question, they provide the most comprehensive statistical account yet of the workings of the capital punishment system. Authoritative and pithy, the book is intended for both students in a wide variety of fields, researchers studying the topic, and--not least--the Supreme Court itself.

Arbitrary Death

Author : Rick Unklesbay
Publisher : Wheatmark, Inc.
Release : 2019-05-10
Category : Law
ISBN : 9781627876810


Book Arbitrary Death Description/Summary:

Over a career spanning nearly four decades, Rick Unklesbay has tried over one hundred murder cases before juries that ended with sixteen men and women receiving the death sentence. Arbitrary Death depicts some of the most horrific murders in Tucson, Arizona, the author's prosecution of those cases, and how the death penalty was applied. It provides the framework to answer the questions: Why is America the only Western country to still use the death penalty? Can a human-run system treat those cases fairly and avoid unconstitutional arbitrariness? It is an insider's view from someone who has spent decades prosecuting murder cases and who now argues that the death penalty doesn't work and our system is fundamentally flawed. With a rational, balanced approach, Unklesbay depicts cases that represent how different parts of the criminal justice system are responsible for the arbitrary nature of the death penalty and work against the fair application of the law. The prosecution, trial courts, juries, and appellate courts all play a part in what ultimately is a roll of the dice as to whether a defendant lives or dies. Arbitrary Death is for anyone who wonders why and when its government seeks to legally take the life of one of its citizens. It will have you questioning whether you can support a system that applies death as an arbitrary punishment -- and often decades after the sentence was given.