Books about the death penalty in German

Just mercy: police violence and judicial arbitrariness in the U.S

Buchcover: Ohne Gnade von Bryan Stevenson

by Bryan Stevenson, 2015

America’s advocate for the poor and lawless recounts his shocking cases: 13-year-old children forced to spend years in solitary confinement, arbitrary arrests and racial prejudice by police and the judiciary, or people with mental illness vegetating in prison for decades: These stories are everyday life in the United States.

A life stolen: 23 years innocent on death row

The case of Debra Milke

by Jana Bommersbach, 2016

An American nightmare: Debra Milke was sentenced to death and served 23 years innocent in prison. She was accused of ordering the murder of her son. She was acquitted in spring 2015 and now has her story told by Jana Bommersbach.

When the State Kills: A History of the Death penalty

by Helmut Ortner, 2017

The history of state killing is a moral picture that provides information about the moral mentality of a society. It is about the death penalty. It is about retribution. At all times and in almost every human society, people have been killed with state legitimation, even beyond the battlefields.

Dead Man Walking – His Last Walk

by Sister Helen Prejean, 1996

Sister Helen Prejean, a nun of the order ‘Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille’ began a pen-pal relationship in 1981 with Patrick Sonnier, who was on Louisiana’s death row for double murder. At Sonnier’s request, she became his spiritual advisor and accompanied him until his execution.

Other German language books on the death penalty:

Buchcover: Todesstrafe: Die Hinrichtungsindustrie in den USA

Death Penalty

The Execution Industry in the USA

by Stephen Trombley, 1993

This book is not a moral treatise on the pros and cons of the death penalty. Rather, it shows the horrible practice, the perfectionism of killing, and the psyche of those who do it. And it shows what it means to wait to die.

In the United States, more than 2,500 people were sentenced to death by the early 1990s. They were hanged, shot, died in the electric chair, in gas chambers or by injection. Executions are carried out by a team of experts who, equipped with the blessing of the highest courts, kill deliberately and following an elaborate plan.

Stephen Trombley had access to the Potosi Penitentiary in Missouri, one of the most modern and highly secured prisons in the U.S., housing only prisoners serving life sentences or sentenced to death.

“My research took me through an America you don’t normally see, a kind of underworld where men wait to die. This odyssey began in a dusty basement in Massachusetts, where injection machines and electric chairs are designed and manufactured. It ends in Missouri, where I spent weeks talking with everyone on the execution team and witnessing their daily lives. I also spent hundreds of hours talking to the prisoners. Some were mass murderers, some hired killers. Some had tortured their victims before killing them. Some would not have been sentenced to death by another court. All these men, prisoners and officers, had one thing in common: They had killed.”

Buch: Auge um Auge: Todesstrafe in den USA

An Eye for an Eye

Death penalty in the U.S.A.

by Silke Porath and Matthias Wippich (editors), 2006

‘How does it feel when you know they’re going to kill you?’ This book provides human insights into American death rows and lets prisoners have their say. “Eye for an Eye – Death Penalty in the USA” contains reports from members of the German Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, who have entered into friendships – some of them very intense over many years – with death row inmates and have tried to bring some warmth and humanity into the inhumane everyday life of death row inmates and have finally accompanied them on their last difficult journey.

I Was a Victim of ‘Dead Man Walking’

by Debbie Morris and Gregg Lewis, 1999

Debbie Morris was raped as a 16-year-old by the very Robert Willie, her then-boyfriend nearly beaten to death, whom Sister Helen Prejean accompanied as a second death row inmate until his execution.

Debbie Morris writes from the victim’s perspective, which makes the book especially worth reading for death penalty opponents, who are so readily accused of forgetting the victims. It becomes clear that the execution of the perpetrator did not bring the author any real peace; the description of her encounter with Helen Prejean is interesting. This is a very moving and impressive book, which – although published by a Christian book publisher – does not have a religious side that is obtrusive in an unpleasant way. The fact that Debbie Morris expresses at the end that she does not know whether capital punishment is right or not perhaps makes the book more credible against her particular background than an outright no to capital punishment.

The Last Hours: Reports from Death Row

by Carroll Pickett, 2004

This is the German translation of the autobiography of Pastor Carroll Pickett – he was prison pastor of the “Walls Unit” in Huntsville, Texas, for 15 years, during which time he accompanied nearly one hundred inmates in their last hours until their execution. Pickett, an avowed opponent of the death penalty after his retirement, not only recounts his eventful life in his book, but allows the reader a glimpse right into the heart of the death penalty, still the ultimate in the United States and Texas.

Buchcover: Schwarze Magnolie

Black Magnolia

How I Escaped North Korea. A Report from Hell

by Hyeonseo Lee with David John, 2017

A long road to freedom. Hyeonseo Lee was born in North Korea, the country from which virtually no news reaches the outside world. When she was seven years old, she witnessed a public execution for the first time.

She often sees corpses floating in the border river with China, people whose escape to a better life failed. As a teenager, Hyeonseo secretly sneaks across the border into China to escape the shackles of the Kim regime at least once – but then her way home is blocked. A dangerous escape begins…

Buchcover: Zur Aktualität der Todesstrafe- Intersisziplinäre und globale Perspektive

On the Actuality of the Death Penalty

Interdisciplinary and global perspective

by Christian Boulanger, Vera Heyes, Philip Hanfling (editors), 2002

This anthology takes an interdisciplinary and international comparative approach to the question of how different developments can be explained.

For what reasons do some states resist the trend toward abolition of the death penalty, while in others it is considered long overcome? From legal, criminological, political science, cultural sociology, historical and medical perspectives, the influence of history, culture, political system and public opinion on the decision whether the state may kill by court decision and the reality of the death penalty will be discussed. What is the impact of international legal norms and regional integration dynamics? Who are the actors in the abolition process? To what extent can their experiences be transferred to other countries?

Already the first edition of this publication from 1997 became a standard scholarly work on the death penalty. The second edition was completely revised in 2002 and expanded by eleven chapters to three times its original size.

Books on the death penalty in English

The Sun Does Shine

How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row

by Anthony Ray Hinton, 2018

A powerful, revealing story of hope, love, justice, and the power of reading by a man who spent thirty years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit.

The Death of Innocents

An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions

by Helen Prejean,2006

From the author of the national bestseller Dead Man Walking comes a brave and fiercely argued new book that tests the moral edge of the debate on capital punishment: What if we’re executing innocent men?

Buchcover: Salvation on Death Row

Salvation on Death Row: The Pamela Perillo Story

by John T. Thorngren, 2017

Pamela Perillo was set to die on March 24, 1996.

Convicted of capital murder in 1980, Pamela sat on Texas’s Death Row awaiting lethal injection. But less than two days before her scheduled execution, she was given a second chance, and in 2000, she was resentenced: from death to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Her first chance at new life had come shortly after her arrest, when Pamela embraced the Christian faith and began bringing her fellow inmates to redemption in Christ.

That’s why although Pamela’s story is one of imprisonment-first by abuse and addiction and ultimately behind the locked doors of the criminal justice system-it’s also a story of hope-of finding a new path in faith, of taking courage from the promise of salvation, and now, of praying for parole in 2019 after nearly forty years of incarceration.

Salvation on Death Row combines true-crime reporting with a powerful spiritual memoir, reminding us that every life is a journey, every person is capable of change, and every individual can make a positive impact on the world.

Bookcover: Death Row Chaplain

Death Row Chaplain

Unbelievable True Stories from America’s Most Notorious Prison

by Rev. Earl Smith & Mark Schlabach, 2015

From a former criminal and now chaplain for the San Francisco 49ers and the Golden State Warriors, comes a riveting, behind-the-bars look at one of America’s most feared prisons: San Quentin. Reverend Earl Smith shares the most important lessons he’s learned from years of helping inmates discover God’s plan for them.

In 1983, twenty-seven-year-old Earl Smith arrived at San Quentin just like everyone thought he would. Labeled as a gang member and criminal from a young age, Smith was expected to do some time, but after a brush with death during a botched drug deal, Smith’s soul was saved and his life path was altered forever.

From that moment on, Smith knew God had an unusual mission for him, and he became the minister to the lost souls sitting on death row. For twenty-three years, Smith played chess with Charles Manson, negotiated truces between rival gangs, and bore witness to the final thoughts of many death row inmates. But most importantly, Smith helped the prisoners of San Quentin find redemption, hope, and to understand that it is still possible to find God’s grace and mercy from behind bars.

Edgy, insightful, and thought provoking, Death Row Chaplain teaches us God’s grace can reach anyone-even the most desperate and lost-and that it’s never too late to turn our lives around.

Book-Cover: Living Next Door to the Death House

Living Next Door to the Death House

by Virginia Stem Owens & David Clinton Owens, 2003

When a prisoner on death row is executed, it’s not just the families of the murderer and the victim who feel the effects. The attorneys, the jury, the law enforcement officers, the prison guards, the wardens overseeing the execution, the chaplains and advisors, the technicians “who prepare the syringe and prick the vein” and they all have powerful stories to tell, stories that are woven together in the riveting narrative of “Living Next Door to the Death House.”

Authors Virginia Stem Owens and David Clinton Owens live in Huntsville, Texas, which has earned a reputation as the death penalty capital of the United States. They call Huntsville “a company town,” where the company in question, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, employs almost a quarter of the residents. With so much of the population directly connected to the prison system, the ultimate punishment meted out as often as once a week is always “next door.”

Through candid, compelling interviews with those in Huntsville connected both personally and professionally to the Texas prison system and death row, the authors explore how the steady stream of executions in the town has affected these people and the community at large. As the Owenses show, the ever-present death chamber “reaches out like tentacles to touch the lives of everyone who lives here.” Some of the people they talk to are in favor of the death penalty, some are against it, many are conflicted.

“Living Next Door to the Death House” shows unforgettably the human face of one of the most controversial and hotly debated issues in the United States today.

Executed on a Technicality

Lethal Injustice on America’s Death Row

by David R. Dow, 2005

When David Dow took his first capital case, he supported the death penalty. He changed his position as the men on death row became real people to him, and as he came to witness the profound injustices they endured: from coerced confessions to disconcertingly incompetent lawyers; from racist juries and backward judges to a highly arbitrary death penalty system.

It is these concrete accounts of the people Dow has known and represented that prove the death penalty is consistently unjust, and it’s precisely this fundamental-and lethal-injustice, Dow argues, that should compel us to abandon the system altogether.