In This Timeless Time: Living and Dying on Death Row in America (Includes a DVD of the documentary film Death Row)

Overview

In this stark and powerful book, Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian explore life on Death Row in Texas and in other states, as well as the convoluted and arbitrary judicial processes that populate all Death Rows. They document the capriciousness of capital punishment and capture the day-to-day experiences of Death Row inmates in the official "nonperiod" between sentencing and execution.

In the first section, "Pictures," ninety-two photographs taken during their fieldwork for the ...

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Overview

In this stark and powerful book, Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian explore life on Death Row in Texas and in other states, as well as the convoluted and arbitrary judicial processes that populate all Death Rows. They document the capriciousness of capital punishment and capture the day-to-day experiences of Death Row inmates in the official "nonperiod" between sentencing and execution.

In the first section, "Pictures," ninety-two photographs taken during their fieldwork for the book and documentary film Death Row illustrate life on cell block J in Ellis Unit of the Texas Department of Corrections. The second section, "Words," further reveals the world of Death Row prisoners and offers an unflinching commentary on the judicial system and the fates of the men they met on the Row. The third section, "Working," addresses profound moral and ethical issues the authors have encountered throughout their careers documenting the Row.

Included is a DVD of Jackson and Christian's 1979 documentary film, Death Row.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this comprehensive, well-crafted book, published in association with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, SUNY-Buffalo professors Jackson and Christian build upon the photographs and interviews from death row in Texas that yielded their 1979 book and documentary Death Row (DVD included). Here, photos and text reveal inmate life, discuss capital punishment, and share the fate of each man: execution, a commuted sentence, parole, or after more than two decades, an innocent verdict. Organized into three sections (“Pictures,” “Words,” “Working”), 113 duotone photos form the bulk of the book: Jackson’s original black-and-white images from the 1970s show mealtime, exercise rituals, and inmates socializing in the dayroom and passing time in their cells, with detailed captions about the procedures and inmates’ lives. The images speak to the boredom and sameness marking death row, though they lack the punch of Danny Lyon’s seminal photographs documenting the Texas prison system in the early 1970s. However, striking moments, such as subsection “Hands and Mirrors,” reveal the prisoners’ loneliness to palpable effect. While the repetition of images from the same scene, or single subjects shown from different angles, diminish the overall impact, the book raises important questions about the judicial system and the practice of capital punishment in our society. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"The book deals in emotion magnificently. . . . A moving piece of photojournalism and a fitting argument against the death penalty."—Texas Books In Review

"A uniquely powerful contribution to the literature on prisons, criminal justice, and capital punishment in the United States. . . . Not to be missed."—Journal of Southern History

"Jackson and Christian's book gives some of those men a face. Therein lays its beauty."—The Rag Blog

"An unflinching commentary on the judicial system and the fates of the men they met on the Row. . . . They made a body of work no one else could."—Prison Photography blog

"All readers concerned about the U.S. prison system and capital punishment will benefit from this important work."—ForeWord

"If opponents of the death penalty were to choose one book for their cause, this could well be it. . . . Jackson and Christian write in a direct, journalistic style, poignant and to the point. This book will appeal to those with a specific interest in cri

"In this comprehensive, well-crafted book . . . Jackson and Christian build upon the photographs and interviews from death row in Texas that yielded their 1979 book and documentary Death Row (DVD included). Here, photos and text reveal inmate life, discus

A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Social Science Title

Library Journal
If opponents of the death penalty were to choose one book for their cause, this could well be it. Jackson (American culture & English, SUNY at Buffalo; The Story Is True: The Art and Meaning of Telling Stories) and poet and documentarian Christian (English, SUNY at Buffalo; Wide-Ons) here cover all the arguments against the death penalty using both words and pictures. The book begins with 113 duotone photographs of inmates on death row in Texas. The men pictured are likely to remind readers of "boys next door" until they see the captions: commuted, paroled, executed. A second section, "Words," talks about the inmates' daily lives and offers commentary on the judicial system that put them on death row. A final section, "Working," addresses the ethics of capital punishment. Included in one of the appendixes is Justice Thurgood Marshall's dissent on the 1976 Supreme Court decision Gregg v. Georgia, which reinstated the death penalty after a four-year hiatus. VERDICT Jackson and Christian write in a direct, journalistic style, poignant and to the point. This book will appeal to those with a specific interest in criminal justice and the death penalty as well as curious casual readers.—Frances Sandiford, formerly with Green Haven Correctional Facility Lib., Stormville, NY
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Bruce Jackson is James Agee Professor of American Culture and SUNY Distinguished Professor of English at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is author of numerous books and films, including the book Pictures from a Drawer: Prison and the Art of Portraiture.

Diane Christian, a poet, scholar of religious literature, and recognized documentarian, is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of English at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Jackson and Christian cowrote Death Row in addition to prod

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