Thurgood Marshall said that the more people learned about the death penalty, the more they wouldd be against it. It is racist, unfair to poor people and the mentally retarded, and far too often ends horribly in the state sanctioned murder of innocents. And no one, no matter how much they're paid, likes to be involved with death itself. In Machinery of Death , death penalty lawyer David R. Dow and writer Mark Dow bring together diverse views from lawyers, wardens, victims' families, executioners and inmates to show how America's death penalty system actually works, and what it does to those who come in contact with it. Arguing that the more we know about the system the more we willl oppose it, the book offers harrowing story after story of racist juries and unjust rulings, of backward judges and public defenders, and of families facing the ultimate decision. Together, these intimate and shocking writings show that in practice, the death penalty is impossible to administer in a fair, workable manner. This is the first death penalty book to look beyond innocence and morality, arguing against executing even the guilty people.
Machinery of Death is a crucial link in the fiery public debate over the meaning and usefulness of this deeply flawed system.
David R. Dow is George Butler Research Professor of Law at the University of Houston. Since 1988, he has represented more than twenty-five death row inmates. Mark Dow is a Brooklyn based freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Progressive, The Miami Herald, The Boston Herald, and The Texas Observer.Christopher Hitchens is a best-selling author and a regular columnist for The Nation and Vanity Fair.