cover image Finding Life on Death Row Hbk

Finding Life on Death Row Hbk

Katya Lezin. Northeastern University Press, $40 (212pp) ISBN 978-1-55553-405-9

Executions in the U.S. are usually carried out with little fanfare, and the public rarely knows much about who is being killed in its name. In this disturbing book, Lezin, a freelance writer who used to work at the office of career services at the Georgetown University Law Center, puts a human face on the debate about capital punishment. Her even-handed presentations of the cases of six death-row inmates, drawn from the files of Stephen Bright, director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, introduce readers to the inmates, the victims, the families, horrible crimes and horrible judges. As attorney Bright notes in his informative foreword, ""A society that employs such an enormous, severe, irreversible, and violent penalty, which has been discarded by much of the rest of the world, should at least know whom it is killing."" All six cases here are from the South: one is a woman, two have already been executed. The variety of their backgrounds and circumstances serves to highlight many of the injustices inflicted upon minorities, women and the poor. Lezin admits her bias at the outset, stating that she is ""adamantly opposed to the death penalty"" and that Bright assisted ""with all aspects of researching and writing"" the book. But Lezin presents each case with no commentary beyond a brief preface. Still, the facts make a compelling argument that the system is too riddled with discrimination and injustice to be morally or constitutionally sound. (Sept.)