AN INDICTMENT BY A DEATH ROW SURVIVOR
By: Billy Sinclair
I am pleased to announce, through the website of the John T. Floyd Law Firm, that my wife, Jodie, and I have recently released our second book, Capital Punishment: An Indictment by a Death Row Survivor. Released by the prestigious publishing house Arcade Publishing (New York), Capital Punishment is a collection of fourteen essays that examines the entire spectrum of the subject of the death penalty: its methods of executions, its Southern regional phenomenon, its racism, its tortuous botched executions, and its impact on our society.
Capital Punishment is not an academic study. The death penalty is told through the human drama it inevitably creates: the persons put to death, those put them to death, and those who tried to stop it. When Jodie and I decided to write my prison memoir, A Life in the Balance: The Billy Wayne Sinclair Story (Arcade Publishing, New York 2000), we did so with one overriding objective—to tell as honestly and realistically as possible the story of one man’s struggle to survive inside one of the nation’s most brutal and violent prisons, the Louisiana State Penitentiary. We would like to believe that we were true to that literary objective. The media critics thought we were as the following book reviews suggest:
Associated Press – “A hopeful tale of an unbreakable human spirit.”
New York Times Book Review – “A numbing tale of crime, punishment, and redemption.
Boston Globe – “Well researched, persuasive, and morbidly compelling … Sinclair’s firsthand account of life in prison offers an authentic, sometimes grisly narrative.”
New Orleans Times-Picayune – “What Sinclair’s book does most eloquently is to tell us how little we know about justice.’
Loyola New Orleans Magazine – “Louisiana’s corrupt prison system, sex, violence, and a mismatched love story unfold in the nonstop, gut-wrenching pages of … a seamless narrative.”
Publishers’ Weekly – “A powerful tale, and readers will be shaken by the sorrow, greed, and corruption they encounter in it.”
But we approached the writing of Capital Punishment with a completely different literary objective. We had an obvious biased objective from the outset. We tell the reader as much in the “Preface” of the book. We both strenuously oppose the death penalty, and as individuals and authors, we have often spoken out against it and published written opposition to it. But first and foremost we are journalists. Jodie earned a master degree in journalism from the prestigious Columbia University School of Journalism and was an award-winning television journalist for many years who witnessed the execution of Gary Lockhart in Huntsville in 1997. I was the recipient of the highly acclaimed George Polk and Sidney Hillman journalism awards writing about death penalty as co-editor of the THE ANGOLITE, the newsmagazine of the Louisiana State Penitentiary.
With this professional background in journalism, we understand the need for factual accuracy and objective analysis in reporting on any subject. We remained true to this professional obligation in Capital Punishment. In the foreword of the book, famed death penalty opponent Sister Helen Prejean said Capital Punishment is “a searing condemnation and a powerful guide to the futility and arrogance of the death penalty carried out in the name of justice.” And it is a “searing condemnation”—an indictment, if you will—based on a factual, objective presentation. We hope its readers will agree.
On Saturday evening, March 7, 2009, we had a book signing at “Murder by the Book” bookstore here in Houston and our presentation was filmed by C-Span/BookTv. The presentation will air on the network in several weeks. We have also recently launched our new website, http://www.capitalpunishmentbook.com/ The website provides more information about both Jodie and I as well as the book. We will post weekly blogs on the website about the death penalty and related issues. It is an interactive website, and we welcome input and discussion from the general public about the death penalty. As Jodie frequently comments, “the death penalty should always be on the table for discussion.”
I will continue to co-author criminal justice and legal blogs with my colleague and supervising attorney, John T. Floyd. We endeavor to post two such blogs on this website every week. We will continue that effort. John and I have also written rather extensively about the death penalty and our shared opposition against it. As a criminal defense attorney, John is always a legal soldier on the front lines in this social and legal issue, and I can’t think of anyone I rather share a fox hole with when the debate bullets began to rage.
By: Billy Sinclair