For twelve years, criminal law professor and leading retributivist Robert Blecker wandered freely inside Lorton Central Prison, armed only with cigarettes, a tape recorder, and the prisoners' trust, probing the lives and crimes of street criminals. After decades of visiting death rows and prisons around the country, speaking with both guards and convicted killers, he began to better understand who did and did not deserve to die. While liberal activists decry the death penalty as unnecessarily expensive and too prone to human error, Blecker found a shocking alternative reality: in today's prisons, perversely, the worst criminals often live the best lives. Inside prison, it's nobody's job to punish. The Death of Punishment argues, on both moral and practical grounds, that we fail to punish criminals at our peril. Blecker offers a much-needed blueprint for making the punishment more closely fit the crime, and shows why European-style prisons, such as in Norway, where mass killers like Anders Breivik have professional playmates, do not supply the answer.
Today, as Colorado prosecutors seek the death penalty for Aurora shooter James Holmes and we await the fate of Boston Marathon bomber Dzokhar Tsarnaev, the death penalty is once again a national conversation.
Robert Blecker is a professor at New York Law School and a nationally known expert on the death penalty. He served previously as Special Assistant Attorney General in the New York State Office of Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor, and was a Harvard University Fellow in Law and Humanities. The sole keynote speaker supporting the death penalty at major conferences and at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. He is a frequent commentator for national media, including The New York Times, PBS, CourtTV, CNN, and BBC World News. He lives in New York City.
CHAPTER 1: Forget Me Nots CHAPTER 2: The Game CHAPTER 3: Inside Lorton Prison CHAPTER 4: The Privileged Are the Damned CHAPTER 5: Killing Him Softly: Witness at an Execution CHAPTER 6: Life is Worse Than Death?: Documenting the Big Lie CHAPTER 7: Illinois-Almost a Witness for the People CHAPTER 8: Home Sweet Home on the Row CHAPTER 9: Daryl CHAPTER 10: Death Approaching CHAPTER 11: For Whom Those Candles Burn CHAPTER 12: Dr. William Petit CHAPTER 13: The Hershey Bar CHAPTER 14: A Death Qualified Jury? CHAPTER 15: Free Will: Voices from the Inside CHAPTER 16: Regret, Remorse, Transformation POSTSCRIPT: Germany