Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Death Penalty & Grisham's The Chamber

From this week's NPR story "Georgia Death Penalty Under Renewed Scrutiny After 11th-Hour Stay:"
A Georgia inmate's execution was halted Tuesday night with less than an hour to go. Prison officials had already given Warren Lee Hill one of the drugs when a federal appeals court stepped in. Hill has an IQ of 70 and his attorneys have long claimed that he's mentally impaired. His case is now raising questions about Georgia's law, which makes it difficult for defendants to prove they should be exempt from execution. The 52-year-old Hill is in prison for killing his girlfriend, whom he shot 11 times, in 1986. Then, while in prison in 1990, he used a wooden board with nails to beat another inmate to death. More than a decade ago, three state doctors that examined Hill said he was not what was then called "mentally retarded." But all three have changed their opinion.
Want a novel set on death row that explores both sides of the capital punishment argument? Try John Grisham's The Chamber. I don't like the book jacket descriptions, so instead I'll use an Amazon review from Jessica Lux:
Grisham manages to make the reader just as torn as the other characters about whether Sam deserves to/should die in the gas chamber for his crimes. I got totally immersed in the book, and spent a lot of time contemplating the death penalty in general. This is a masterful story and a good book for anyone who wants to look at the grey areas of the law and what is right and wrong.

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