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

Edmund G. Brown, Author, Ian Parberry, Author George Weidenfeld & Nicholson $18.95 (171p) ISBN 978-1-55584-253-6
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.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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