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Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty    
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Don't Kill in Our Names: Families of Murder Victims Speak Out Against the Death Penalty
by Rachel King
King, a lawyer with the ACLU and an anti-death-penalty activist, tells the haunting stories of families touched by murder. Instead of seeking the death penalty for the convicts, these family members forcefully and poignantly oppose it: they "reject the concept of retribution and believe that no one is beyond redemption," says King. The gruesome murders vary widely, but a number of threads link the survivors. In each case, he or she tries to understand the forces that might lead a person to commit murder. And in just about every case, grisly details emerge about the murderer's background-such as abandonment and abuse. Instead of focusing on their rage, the survivors strive to feel compassion for the murderers-and their families-and to communicate this compassion to them. Many of the survivors evoke God as a reason for their opposition to the death penalty. Says Marietta Jaeger, about her rapport with the man who savagely murdered her seven-year-old daughter: "I believe that God was loving him through me... desperately needed the love and compassion I felt for him." Says Ron Carlson, whose sister was axed to death, "I don't think the Son of God would destroy his own father's creation." Particularly disturbing are stories that involve the sentencing to death of retarded convicts and juveniles, as well as one man who was ultimately proven innocent. The testimony of families of murder victims is key to anti-death penalty campaigners, and these moving accounts might touch readers who are wavering on the issue.

Against Capital Punishment: The Anti-Death Penalty Movement in America, 1972-1994
While most western democracies have renounced the death penalty, capital punishment enjoys vast and growing support in the United States. A significant and vocal minority, however, continues to oppose it. Against Capital Punishment is the first full account of anti-death penalty activism in America during the years since the ten-year moratorium on executions ended. Building on in-depth interviews with movement leaders and the records of key abolitionist organizations, this work traces the struggle against the pro-death penalty backlash that has steadily gained momentum since the 1970s. It reviews the conservative turn in the courts which, over the last two decades, has forced death penalty opponents to rely less on the litigation strategies that once served them well. It describes their efforts to mount a broad-based educational and political assault on what they see as the most cruel, racist, ineffective, and expensive manifestation of a criminal justice system gone wrong. Despite the efforts of death-penalty opponents, executions in the United States are on the increase. Against Capital Punishment diagnoses the reasons for the failure to mobilize widespread opposition to executions, and assesses the prospects for opposition to capital punishment in the future of the United States.

Against the Death Penalty: Christian and Secular Arguments Against Capital Punishment
Drawing on Old and New Testament resources as well as secular arguments, Gardner C. Hanks shows that the death penalty harms rather than helps any quest for a just, humane society. He demonstrates through research data that the death penalty is an ineffective crime-fighting tool.

The Wrong Men: America's Epidemic of Wrongful Death Row Convictions
As the title suggests, Cohen (The Man in the Crowd) examines some 100 instances where people sentenced to death were later exonerated, most of them ultimately proven innocent of the crimes for which they were condemned. The capsule profiles of the exonerated are often too sketchy to be fully satisfactory. Still, Cohen makes his case that innocent people regularly receive death sentences merely through the cumulative effect of the stories. Cohen also analyzes the chief reasons why wrongful convictions occur so frequently. Eyewitness error is a prime factor, whether because of simple mistake or pressure from law enforcement officials. Again, prosecutors avid for convictions distort trials by inducing or winking at perjury or by suppressing evidence favorable to the accused. Other wrongful convictions are attributed to junk science, such as having witnesses' memories stimulated by amateur hypnotists. The author's explanations of these sources of capital error are straightforward and clarified by well-chosen examples. DNA analysis, as the book also explains, has become the main vehicle for exonerating the innocent, but in many cases no DNA evidence is available. Cohen believes the death penalty will soon be relegated to the "dark and distant past," and this volume is a convincing argument for the unreliability of capital convictions.
The Last Face You?ll Ever See : The Culture of Death Row
In fascinating detail, Ivan Solotaroff introduces us to the men who carry out executions. Although the emphasis is on the personal lives of these men and of those they have to put to death, The Last Face You'll Ever See also addresses some of the deeper issues of the death penalty and connects the veiled, elusive figure of the executioner to the vast majority of Americans who, since 1977, have claimed to support executions. Why do we do it? Or, more exactly, why do we want to?
The Last Face You'll Ever See is not about the polarizing issues of the death penalty -- it is a firsthand report about the culture of executions: the executioners, the death-row inmates, and everyone involved in the act. An engrossing, unsettling, and provocative book, this work will forever affect anyone who reads it.

Death Row: Interviews With Inmates, Their Families and Opponents of Capital Punishment
Death Row contains thought-provoking interviews from opponents of the death penalty, as well as from inmates on death row.
Death Row is the inspired work of the impoverished Tennessee mother of Jeffrey Dicks, who languished on death row for a robbery he didn't commit and a murder he didn't even see. Shirley Dicks was inspired by the inequality of our justice system to publish these series of interviews by those who oppose the death penalty. This thought-provoking collection provides much insight on this controversial issue.  The United States' stand on the death penalty, in light of US leadership in human rights, appears to be a contradiction to the rest of the world. The methods of execution are sometimes extremely painful and not quick. An overwhelming percentage of those on death row are impoverished and would not be there if they had other resources besides desultory and ineffective court appointed counsel. These and other important issues are poignantly addressed.  Shirley Dicks was unable to hire a competent legal defense. At the trial the family was shocked when vital evidence was never presented to the jury. Jeff, who had no history of violent or criminal behavior, was convicted of murder and sentenced to die in Tennessee's electric chair. Jeff's loved ones never lost faith in his innocence, and they shared in his daily burden of deadly uncertainty and experienced the painful frustrations of their attempts to set him free. Unfortunately, Jeff died in prison in 1999 from inadequate medical treatment, which was several years after his conviction in 1978.
Leaving Death Row  By Reginald Lewis , Pennsylvania Death Row Prisoner
This book is truly an insight into the world of not only an incarcerated man, but a black man on death row. Lewis speaks honestly, clearly and uncompromisingly about the realities of death row, imprisonment and the conditions that see over two million people, mostly black and brown, caged there. If we are to ever get at the root cause of the boom in the prison industry, we won't get there through get tough on crime laws. It will be by humanizing those who are in that system, and that is something that Lewis does with talent and compassion.

Life on Death Row  by Robert Murray, Arizona death row prisoner
This is a must read for anyone seriously interested in the concept of justice. Set in death row of a super max prison in Arizona, Robert W Murray has produced a vivid account of his experiences drawing the reader directly into the narrative, almost into his tiny isolated cell.  Brought to life are many examples of the inhumanity of the prison system, where men and women are stripped of their dignity, where executions are carried out to further political careers and the legal system which Robert describes as, "Fair", is misused by incompetent people.  This is a moving book which argues for the removal of the death penalty not only because some of those killed by the state are innocent but also because of the absolute futility of vengeance by execution.
Out Of The Night - Writings From Death Row
This book is the only collection of poems and prose by prisoners on America’s Death Row. It lets us hear voices from that terrible darkness, where 2,750 people face execution. For these authors, their writing is a lifeline and a link to the outside world. They use it to evoke the desolation of imprisonment without hope, and to argue passionately against the inhumanity of capital punishment.
Royalties from the book are being donated to the Andrew Lee Jones Fund, which supports the training of lawyers in capital defence. -

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