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Capital Punishment: An Indictment by a Death-Row Survivor Hardcover – March 11, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing (March 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559708999
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559708999
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,628,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Billy Wayne Sinclair established himself in prison as a no-nonsense jailhouse lawyer defending the rights of his fellow prisoners and as a journalist, the recipient of many national awards. He lives with his wife, Jodie, in Houston, Texas.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Caleb D. Powell on November 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In this book Billy Wayne Sinclair and his wife write an eloquent plea, very well-researched, perhaps too much, to state their claim. I, too, feel the death penalty should be abolished, but the Sinclairs hinder as much as help this cause. My views: The best punishment for the most dangerous felon is life in prison. The criminal justice system must give priority to, in order, society, victims, and then the criminal. Rehabilitation only makes sense for the criminal who will return to society, and should not be a factor for lifers.

The background of this story is Billy Wayne Sinclair's crime. In the commission of a robbery he shot a convenience store clerk. Though Sister Helen Prejean and Billy say the killing was unintentional, common sense looks at the facts: he held up a store, ran, fired at and killed his pursuer. Accidental killing? That's a stretch, Billy fired a gun in the direction of his victim. While committing a felony he killed someone. He was guilty. Sinclair and Prejean try to mitigate murder.

The meat of the book makes compelling universal arguments against the death penalty: revenge, brutality, the chance of the executed being innocent, and so forth, but explores little new territory and extols the weaker sides of the anti-death penalty movement. One such side is a judgment against victims and society for desiring vengeance. For example, John Ledbetter Gray, executed because he raped and killed a child. The author quotes the child's father and writes:

" `Even in prison he had been able to talk, to breathe, and to laugh, and he had taken all these things from my little girl,' Scales (the father) said, continuing to stoke the flames of revenge. `He didn't have the right to continue to live.'"

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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gajopa on May 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read the Sinclair's other book when it first came out and considered it in the top 5 I've ever read, and I'm an avid reader. I've wished they would write an update to their lives since then so when I saw this one I ordered it immediately hoping that it was. Instead it's filled with statistics of the death penality, along with their opinion of it. While well written it's just not terribly interesting. If I hadn't been so eager I could have bought it for $2.20 new shortly afterwards so that tells me it's not a best seller by any means.

I felt then and now that Billy was not treated fairly in the length of time he had to serve. There's nothing fair about the penalty phase of our justice system. One person will be given 15 years after deliberating killing a person and sometimes several people and another will get the death sentence. Since his intent was not to kill, I think 40 years was too long to serve in view of others intentionally killing and getting out in a few years. I think it's admirable that he chose to make something of his life while he served his sentence. I don't understand their reasoning that the death sentence should be abolished. Why should a deliberate murderer be allowed to live after heinous crimes, people like BTK and many others? A person should have consequences that fit their crime. So, Billy and Jodie if you read this I would still like to read about your lives from then until now.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Sabin VINE VOICE on May 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I guess I'm what you could call a "law-and-order liberal." All things being equal, I would just as soon the death penalty be abolished in this country, but I don't lose any sleep when people the likes of Ted Bundy are executed.

And that's how I felt when I cracked open this rather interesting book by Billy Wayne Sinclair, a guy who spent years on death row for a murder he acknowledges he committed, but who is now a productive citizen.

Sinclair's take on the death penalty is that it has no place in this country as it does not leave open the possibility for rehabilitation, parole --or hope.

So how do I feel after having read his book? Exactly the same. In fact, I found some of Sinclair's words and thoughts to be a little bit disturbing. He talks about a murder in which the bullet just "nicked" the victim's aorta. Perhaps it did, but I gather that the purpose of wording it like that is to somehow diminish the seriousness of the crime. "Nicked the aorta" sure sounds a lot less awful than "shot in the heart." But if it was YOUR loved one who had their aorta "nicked," I really doubt that that's how you would be referring to the wound.

He also writes of murderers (such as himself) who end up being released --as if that's a good thing. Certainly, Sinclair himself may no longer be a threat to society, but in all honesty --I don't really care. The murderer's victims didn't get a 'second chance' and neither should they.

Someone who has committed a crime worthy of receiving a LIFE sentence deserves to spend the rest of their lives behind bars. He maintains that a "true" life term eliminates hope. Well? So? Good.

What I STRONGLY agree with the author about is the issue of the falsely accused and convicted.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Kelly on February 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
First, let me say that I did not buy this book from, I obtained a copy of it for one dollar at Dollar Tree store for, of course, one dollar. I have given this book a 5-star rating only because it offers a quite different argument against Capital Punishment than I have ever read before. It is well researched, but, though highly and seemingly, highly biased in favor of the author's viewpoint, who was at one time a Death Row Inmate himself. I cannot and do not agree with Sinclair's argument for an abolition of Capital Punishment, but he does make a good argument for its severe reduction and limited imposition. That said and to be purely honest, I leave it up to the reader of this book to form his/her own conclusions and opinions, without further argument. Our Laws, as they have been since the founding of our Republic, are based on the informed, misinformed or uniformed majority. That is the way it is and whatever is at any moment in history is the way it is, right or wrong. As for myself, I favor a future with a reformed Penal System that fully takes into account why horrible, Cold-Blooded crimes occur and administers Justice accordingly. But isn't that the way it is already, isn't it? A Wonderfeel Creator has endowed US with the intelligent capacity to evolve and advance - "Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life [love], so that you and your descendants might live!" - Deuteronomy 30:19 (NLT 2007) and "Come now, let's settle this," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool." - Isaiah 1:18 (NLT 2007).
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