Back from the Dead: On the Trail of the Winners of America's Death Row Lotteryby Joan M. Cheever
What would happen if the United States abolished the death penalty and emptied its Death Rows? If killers were released from prison? What would they do with their second chance to live? Would they kill again?
Back From The Dead is the story of 589 former death row inmates who, through a lottery of fate, were given a second chance at life in/i>
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
The stories of these former death row inmates are all interesting and deserve to be told. However, many times throughout the book I felt Ms. Cheever's personal opinions and feelings got in the way of her telling the stories. Every murder is described as 'brutal' and 'cold-blooded' and it seems as if every other chapter she has placed herself in fear of her life by simply associating with the subjects she wants to interview. I have worked in criminal defense for 6 years now and on occassion have handled death penalty work. With the exception of a very small handful of clients I've never feared for my safety when I'm alone with them. I have also found that each story has two sides, I'm not saying that I agree with the decision to murder someone but I can see why it happened. Several of the cases described in this book definitely beg for re-examination and when a person does that, I think most will find that the subjects crime were neither exceptionally 'brutal' nor 'cold-blooded' in this day and age.
Tracking down 589 people is no small undertaking. Ms. Cheever not only does justice to the overwhelming task, but delves into the depths of the Class of '72, who received a second chance at life. While on her journey to find what became of 'lottery winners' of Furman v. Georgia, Ms. Cheever touched their souls while exposing her own. In the end she learned the meaning of forgiveness and became the 'healer' in a justice system wrought with injustice. The reader learns where and who these reprieved convicts are today with the added insight of Ms. Cheever's underpinings through the snipets of her coloful Texas family. Just as the reader comes up for air, having meet a former death row inmate and having heard the facts of his crime and punishment from his point of view, the author teases you with a preview of who comes next. Putting the book down at this junture is not an option. In the end the reader has much to ponder. Kudos to Ms. Cheever whose Notes are as good a read as the book.