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Public Justice, Private Mercy: A Governor's Education on Death Row

Public Justice, Private Mercy: A Governor's Education on Death Row

by Edmund G. Brown, Dick Adler

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Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
At a time when the highly controversial issue of capital punishment is attracting increasing attention, former governor of California Brown recounts some of the 59 cases of death-row appeals on which he decided during his tenure, 1959-1967. Having supported the death penalty while he was state attorney general, he worked to abolish it as governor. Assisted by Adler, an editor at Los Angeles magazine, Brown recalls the well-known case of kidnapper-rapist Caryl Chessman, whose book and film, Cell 2455 , helped win him 12 years of reprieves before his execution in 1960. Equally engrossing are the cases of child-murderer Richard Lindsey and rapist Edward Walker--which hinged, Brown contends, on the nature of legal insanity or loopholes and badly written law. Though regretting a few of his decisions, such as when he commuted the execution of rapist Edward Wein, in his valuable firsthand assessment Brown nevertheless declares that capital punishment is often unfair, fails to deter crime, clogs the judicial system with delays, and should be replaced by life sentences, generally without parole. (Aug.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
While governor of California (1959-1967), Brown allowed 36 individuals to be executed and commuted the sentences of 23 others. When he left office, 60 were on death row, and by 1988 the number had risen to 230. The book contains case histories and carefully reasoned arguments against capital punishment. Brown says the debate should focus on whether a life sentence without possibility of parole is a realistic alternative for those being executed, the overwhelming majority of whom are ``psychotic, near-psychotic, alcoholic, mentally defective or otherwise demonstrably unstable.'' Brown's views on his own experience with the commutation process add new material to the capital punishment debate. This is an excellent source for those interested in the life-without-parole position.-- John Broderick, Stonehill Coll., North Easton, Mass.

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Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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1st ed

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