I used to support the death penalty. You believe most attorneys and judges act dispassionately and in accord with the dictates of law and the Constitution. A few were mentally retarded. Helen Prejean, a committed activist against capital punishment, and her statement that support for the Death Penalty is a mile wide and an inch deep he adds that one can die in an inch of water. Quaker had witnessed the deaths of two friends in a fire that consumed part of the chemical plant where he worked; afterwords he became withdrawn, apparently traumatized. Supreme Court justices who refuse to grant a death row inmate a stay of execution should have to deliver the news face-to-face to the inmate has he waits in the holding cell eight steps down the dank hall from the execution chamber, instead of having one of their law clerks call the inmate's lawyer.
I understand the reasoning, but I have to wonder how many other people are suffering in this manner. If the system by which the state administers justice is too screwed up to administer justice then that state does not have the authority to execute anyone. People who are sentenced to death are disproportionately black and poor, represented by unbelievably crappy lawyers who miss filing deadlines, fail to raise pertinent points of appeal, and who essentially doom their clients to death by virtue of their inadequacy. He lets us laugh a little and shows us his own contrasting existence as a loving but sometimes absent dad and a caring but often distracted husband. The problem with this lawyerly approach is that nobody cares about rules or principles when they're dealing with a murderer. Once the death penalty has been averted, people are much less likely to be interested in the case.
These are often not chronological. He use to support the death penalty but opposes it now. He believes that most of his clients are guilty and he doesn't like them. It's like being at an excruciating lecture. After an execution, he comes home and launders his clothes in a separate load.
And leaves it to the reader to be outraged while impotent. With a handful of exceptions, their parents were appalling. There are several cases in this story, but the central case involves a man convicted of murdering his wife and children, who is facing execution in a matter of weeks. I found it powerful to see how the fight to stave off executions impacted those relationships, and I expect this is mirrored in homes across the United States. These books are difficult to put down, as they draw the reader in to the struggles of the stories. David Dow is an academic and a lead lawyer at Texas's non-profit anti-death penalty litigation center.
I'm not sure if this was subconscious I'm betting Dow has read Grisham , or if it just means that this is the life of a busy, driven Southern lawyer. Most of them did something terrible because, when they were young, neither their parents nor our society paid them any heed. So is this truly non-fiction? To coin a cliché, I was on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next. I picked this book out one, because I wanted to read an opposing viewpoint for capital punishment and two, I'm always curious about criminal defense attorneys--how and why they try to protect and serve those who commit the most heinous crimes. My other cases, every death-penalty lawyer's cases, are just like them. It is certainly a revealing look into the process. It's written as though reader and author are talking about whatever is on the author's mind at the moment but the author keeps getting interrupted by his cell phone.
This book should be required reading to be a human. So very deserving of the Barnes and Noble Discover Award! The lives of living individuals are regarded without value. From a distance, ease can easily be mistaken for indifference. The author has a very interesting perspective, having worked for Texas death-row inmates, and he is, I would say, enraged at how the legal system has treated them. To those who have read this book and still stand by your position on the death penalty in America, I say your hearts are very hard indeed. I was furious after reading of the institutionalized callousness of the death penalty machine: that a man may go do his death because a computer server was down and his lawyer left unable to file a motion in time.
He reminds us that there are still good people doing the right things - innocents on death row, changed inmates who have repented, prison guards and cops who go to death penalty vigils - but through our indifference and callousness the death penalty especially in Texas caters to our worst instincts. It was far better than I ever imagined. It really changed the way I feel about the death penalty. The Autobiography of an Execution reads like a steam locomotive barreling full throttle into the death chamber at Huntsville. A few were mentally retarded.
David Dow definitely has a point of view that needs to be heard, but sometimes his writing is clunky. In Autobiography of an Execution, author David Dow uses several devices to present a compelling argument for the elimination of the death penalty. And speak powerfully it does. I can't imagine a more frustrating job. What I don't get is having them and then not caring. That bright light, though, is what keeps him grounded and allows him to work within such a bleak environment. I'm not sure if this will convince anyone either way -- people seem to be pretty set in their mindset on this matter -- but it is a great eye-opener into the workings of our justice system.
One of the things that makes this book unique is that Dow doesn't focus on cases of the wrongly executed, which would easily gain more sympathy from readers. This man's life is the hook that hurls us to the end with high octane drama that keeps you turning the pages non-stop until you utterly feel everything Dow and his legal team feel -- the suspense, elation, setbacks and legal maneuvering they employ to save this man's life. He became a Christian after his former wife's daughter's death and used this to his advantage in court. I started being a death penalty lawyer because I agreed to work on behalf of a single inmate whose lawyer quit when the inmate was two weeks away from execution. Though we'll never be certain who committed the crimes for which Quaker was exececuted, if he was indeed innocent, I can't think of a better reason to leave the world bitter and spiteful.
David Dow's memoir is about some of the death-row inmates whom he's represented as their attorney, and all the injustices and challenges that exist where he practices Texas. Dow's argument against the death penalty is this: if the system is this screwed up, no one can expect justice from the system. And yet: Dow tempers all this with prose that is more Hemingwayesque in its simple, stark power. The book format -- part memoir, part creative non-fiction -- is not for everyone. He depicts his home life, with his wife whom he adores and his five-year-old, as a refuge, but one that too often is violated by the on-call nature of his work. I appreciate the honesty Dow provides the reader; namely that he used to be a supporter of the death penalty and that he does not judge those who still are.