Edmund (Pat) Brown, the former governor of California. From 1959 to 1967, Brown commuted the death sentences of 23 convicts, but allowed 36 others to go to the gas chambers. He has written a book, Public Justice, Private Mercy: A Governor's Education on Death Row, about the extraordinary personal and political pressures that came to bear on each decision, and of the evolution of his thinking on the death penalty from his inauguration to his last day in office.
Attorney Bryan Stevenson is the Executive Director of the fledgling Alabama Capital Representation Resource Center. He represents prisoners on Alabama's death row, and tries to persuade other lawyers to do the same on a pro bono basis. He's a graduate of Harvard Law School, and he earns $25,000 a year in his job. He was raised in rural southern Delaware, and says the people he defends are much like people he grew up with, but who didn't get the breaks he did.
Writer and filmmaker Stephen Trombley's latest project is a book and documentary, "The Execution Protocol: Inside America's Capital Punishment Industry." The book has little to do with the morality of taking a life; rather, It's about the practical considerations involved with performing executions.
Helen Prejean's book, "Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States" (Random House) details her experience working with death row inmates in Louisiana. Prejean has come to believe that the death penalty is not only ineffective as a deterrent, but that the government can't be trusted to decide who should live and who should die. Prejean is a Roman Catholic nun.
Former three-term Governor for New York State Mario Cuomo and one of the Democratic party's most respected spokesperson. Since losing office in the 1994 republican-landslide election, Cuomo has started his own nationally syndicated radio show. His new book, Reason to Believe (Simon & Schuster) is his critique of the Republican's Contract with America.
Helen Prejean. Prejean is a Roman Catholic nun. Her book, "Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States" (Random House, 1993) details her experience working with death row inmates in Louisiana. It's been made into a new film, starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. Prejean has come to believe that the death penalty is not only ineffective as a deterrent, but that the government can't be trusted to decide who should live and who should die. (REBROADCAST from 7/13/93).
Judge Alex Kozinski is on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Since the 1970's he has had to make decisions on cases involving the death penalty. But, although an advocate of this controversial form of punishment, he finds it difficult to enforce. In a recent New Yorker article ("Tinkering with Death", 10 Feb 1997), he recalls his experience the first time he wrote an opinion for such a case. Kozinski also writes for the Wall Street Journal's Op-ed page and other publications.
In 1980, Debbie Morris was a 16 year-old high school junior who was kidnapped, raped, and beaten by Robert Lee Willie. Willie's story was portrayed by Sean Penn in the film "Dead Man Walking." She has written about her life in "Forgiving the Dead Man Walking." (Zondervan)
Lawyer, former federal prosecutor and best-selling novelist Scott Turow. Last month, before leaving office, Illinois Gov. George Ryan commuted the sentences of all inmates on the state's Death Row. Turow served on the governor's commission to evaluate capital punishment. Turow's latest book is Reversible Errors.
Reverend Carroll Pickett was the death-house chaplain at the Walls prison unit in Huntsville, Texas for 13 years. During his tenure, he ministered to 95 inmates executed by lethal injection. He is the subject of a new documentary, At the Death House Door.