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The Death of Punishment: Searching for Justice among the Worst of the Worst Hardcover – November 19, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Trade (November 19, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1137278560
  • ISBN-13: 978-1137278562
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #538,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“An informative and often gripping read…Blecker's descriptions of life and leisure for brutal killers will move many to outrage.” –RealClearPolitics

“Blecker’s argument that prison needs to be more punishing is thought-provoking. Also fascinating is the way in which the author’s interactions with prisoners force him to confront his own beliefs…Blecker has shown us that the problem of how a civilized society deals with monstrous behaviour is as difficult as ever.” —Asia Times

“Written in a breezy, conversational style, the [book] contains Blecker’s commentary about the administration of punishment and his conversations with prisoners about it. This is a valuable addition to the literature, written for a popular audience.”—Library Journal

"Arresting fusion of memoir and jeremiad, arguing for a punitive approach toward the worst perpetrators of social violence, amid a general overhaul of attitudes toward criminality... While many will dismiss his viewpoint, Blecker presents a strong case with legalistic rigor on some of the darkest questions facing society." —Kirkus Reviews

"A truly remarkable and deeply moral book — an eloquent, unsparing, often counterintuitive, and sometimes painful meditation on why, whom, and how a decent society should decide to punish, and what those questions can teach us about universal truths of morality and justice. A philosophically and legally sophisticated page-turner is a rare thing to behold, but Robert Blecker has produced just that. If you think you already know what you believe about the death penalty, think again and read this book. If you care deeply about questions of right and wrong, read it twice." —Laurence H. Tribe, University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School, and author of The Invisible Constitution and American Constitutional Law

"Robert Blecker is probably the most articulate death penalty supporter around, and easily the most honest. His argument is one that any death penalty supporter will identify with, but more importantly, it's one any opponent must answer. —David Dow, founder of Texas Innocence Network, author of Autobiography of an Execution

"A seamless blend of the writings of the Ancients, modern law and practice, and rich personal insights, The Death of Punishment is a beautifully written, passionate, principled, and provocative exploration of issues that nestle at the heart of the meaning of justice.  This important volume demands the attention of friends and foes of capital punishment alike, and of anyone willing to grapple seriously with questions that are at once timeless and timely." —James R. Acker, Distinguished Teaching Professor, University at Albany, Editor of America’s Experiment with Capital Punishment

"A fascinating tour behind the walls of prisons and through the minds of murderers.   Along the way, Blecker demonstrates why life in prison is not enough punishment for the worst of the worst". —Kent Scheidegger, Legal Director, The Criminal Justice Legal Foundation

"A remarkable book—eloquent, passionately argued, and disturbing in its clarion call for more punishment in prison and more pain in the death house.  No one can read this book and not be deeply affected by it. Serious students of crime and punishment must face and respond
to Blecker’s provocative and engaging work." —Robert Johnson, Professor of Justice, Law and Society, American University, Author of Death Work

"A refreshing source of intellectual honesty in his treatment of punishment in America, Blecker has performed a public service by forcing Americans to confront that for many of the most hardened offenders, hard time is anything but." —Michael Welner, M.D., Founder & Chairman, The Forensic Panel, Creator of the Depravity Scale
 
"Blecker is a fearless iconoclast, whose remarkable intellect has taken him places most avoid ever treading. This truly gripping and very personal journey to seek justice spans 3000 years of history and
philosophy. A fascinating journey that will challenge thinking readers to re-examine their concept of true justice." —Joshua Marquis, elected District Attorney of Astoria, Oregon, co-author of Debating the Death Penalty

 

About the Author

Robert Blecker is a professor at New York Law School, a nationally known expert on the death penalty, and the subject of the documentary "Robert Blecker Wants Me Dead."  He formerly prosecuted corruption in New York's criminal justice system as a Special Assistant Attorney General and has been the sole keynote speaker supporting the death penalty at several major national and international conferences.  A post-graduate Harvard fellow in Law and Humanities, Blecker wrote a stage play "Vote NO!"  which premiered at the Kennedy Center.  Profiled by the New York Times and Washington Post, the subject of a USA Today cover story, and recently featured on ABC Nightline,  Blecker frequently comments for national media, including the New York Times, PBS, CNN and BBC World News.  He lives in New York.


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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Makes me CRAZY!
M. Haagenstad
The book is an extended exposition of the death penalty in the form of a memoir.
Samuel A. Forman
This is a fascinating story well told.
Steve Cohen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Steve Cohen on November 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Robert Blecker makes you think. And he makes you challenge long-held assumptions. Among the most widespread and erroneous misperceptions is that prison is a “living hell” for criminals convicted of the most heinous crimes. It is not, according to the extensive first-hand research Blecker has conducted over the past 25 years.

Blecker is a professor at New York Law School – and former Special Prosecutor –who has spent hundreds of hours inside America’s most notorious prisons. He has been given access to death rows and cell-blocks where the “worst-of-the-worst” have regular access to private television sets, craft rooms, rock-and-roll studios, and air conditioned gyms. And perhaps most surprisingly, many of the convicted killers-and-rapists have opened up to him. So have their guards and prison wardens.

This is a fascinating story well told. Blecker, who was the subject of a 2009 documentary entitled, “Robert Blecker Wants Me Dead” is widely recognized as the nation’s most thoughtful, articulate “retributivist” – and proponent of the death penalty.

It is clear as one reads this book Blecker is not trying to be provocative for the sake of being provocative. The story is far more philosophical than political. And it is dramatic. The stories Blecker relates – from prisoners, prison officials, and what he has seen first-hand – are fascinating and well-told.

I suspect Blecker’s objective is only partly to get people to agree with him. His willingness to engage the leading “abolitionists” – those opposed to the death penalty for any reason – is well documented. Instead, I’m convinced Blecker wants his readers to think. And to that end, Bleckers succeeds admirably.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Samuel A. Forman on December 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The book is an extended exposition of the death penalty in the form of a memoir. Robert Blecker, a professor of Constitutional and criminal law at New York Law School, traces his decades long quest to understand his retributivist beliefs concerning convicted perpetrators of vicious, often multiple murders. For prospective readers like me, I needed to be reminded that retributivism is an approach to crime and punishment aspiring to make the punishment fit the crime, up to and including a painful if quick death for "the worst of the worst" murderers.
Billy Crystal, the popular comedic actor and promoter of liberal Democratic causes, states in his new memoir that aging has influenced him to become more politically conservative. He is almost apologetic in describing his revulsion at the thought of remorseless serial killer Richard Speck partying in prison as his punishment for the systematic torture, rape, and murders of eight student nurses in Chicago. Speck died of natural causes in prison, famously mocking his victims and society in a widely viewed video. Crystal takes affront at the thought of society coddling such a monstrous person for so long. And the affront has apparently worn on Crystal. Speck passed away in 1991. Boston's popular and unabashedly liberal mayor Thomas Menino has gone on the record as supporting the death penalty for the Marathon bombers. Such an approach would have to be in a federal jurisdiction, for Menino and many Massachusetts citizens have abolished the death penalty in their own state. While an entertainer and a politician only express such retributivist views under self-mocking cover of senility or as a lame-duck politician, maybe it is high time to examine seriously the arguments put forth by retributivists in favor of the death penalty.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alan Leland on December 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Professor Robert Blecker's unique style combines decades of real-world anecdotes with compelling logic, theory and evidence. Blecker challenges the core arguments of his fiercest critics. Most importantly, while the author leaves no doubt as to his own views, Blecker re-opens the dialogue on a topic too often glossed over.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Schechter on November 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is not a genre that I usually read, but I did and have to say that I was thoroughly engaged. The substance is fascinating, the writing riveting. It brought me inside the heads of criminals- some detestable and some less so- and made me understand the failure of our criminal justice system as it applies to the punishment, or rather lack thereof, of our worst offenders. It is a clarion call for change, and I encourage everyone to read it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Haagenstad on January 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Our prison system is fatally flawed in the US. The "time" should reflect the "crime," as most of us can agree. I think Professor Blecker makes a very compelling argument for a total overhaul of our "lacking in justice" system. That murderers and rapists and child killers can enjoy their days "playing" with other inmates, watching cable television, napping, etc. Makes me CRAZY!

And a side note: I have to be one of the most liberal people in the US, so this is NOT a "conservative" vs. "liberal" issue. The issue is justice.

Read this book! Blecker spent 25 years behind the walls of prison interviewing staffers and inmates. This book is a comprehensive telling of many of the stories that these individuals shared with Blecker over those 25 years. I found the book completely compelling.

I wish everyone would read this book and write to their state legislators to start a dialogue about overhauling our penal system.
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