Life After Murder
Five Men in Search of Redemption
By Nancy Mullane
(PublicAffairs, Hardcover, 9781610390293, 384pp.)
Publication Date: June 2012
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An award-winning journalist tells the personal stories of five convicted murderers, offering a new perspective on guilt, forgiveness, and second chances in America
Nancy Mullane develops, reports, and produces feature stories for Public Radio International’s This American Life, National Public Radio, and the NPR affiliate KALW News-Crosscurrents in San Francisco. With the support of the Open Society Foundation, she is producing a two-hour, four-part, radio documentary telling the stories of men and women convicted of murder which will air nationally in 2012. She is a member of the Society for Professional Journalists, the Association of Independents in Radio, and the International Women’s Media Foundation. In 2011, Nancy was the recipient of a National Edward R. Murrow Award.
Michelle Alexander, legal scholar and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
“Life After Murder challenges us to do the unthinkable––view those accused of horrible crimes as worthy of our concern. Nancy Mullane, a white woman who was once just as ignorant about the real world of crime and punishment as the typical television viewer, takes us on a remarkable journey behind bars. Through the stories of five unforgettable men, we are reminded of the power and possibility of redemption, as well as the nearly unforgiveable crime our nation has committed: treating some human beings as disposable.”
Amy Bach, author of Ordinary Injustice: How America Holds Court and executive director, Measures for Justice
“What happens when men who have committed heinous crimes are released from prison? Nancy Mullane first met her five characters while they were serving life sentences for murder. She persuaded corrections officials to give her unheard of access to the inmates. Then, in an extraordinary turn of events, Mullane documented their unexpected release back into society. Her remarkable on-the-ground reporting should elicit soul-searching from the Left, Right, and Center. If these five former inmates can lead responsible, productive lives after decades in maximum-security prisons, can they show us the way toward a new policy that combines fiscal responsibility, public safety, and genuine remorse? Read this unusual story, and let the debate begin.…”
“Can a murderer be redeemed? This is Mullane’s central theme in her revealing book of five murderers who all served lengthy sentences in California’s notorious San Quentin Prison, now seeking to live out the remainder of their tainted lives without condemnation or reproach. Without any attempt to excuse their crimes, Mullane offers a highly charged exposé of this quintet of hopeful ex-cons battered by a wicked tangle of red tape and penal regulations, along with an unsympathetic outside world that refuses to either forget or forgive their transgressions. With their fates in the hands of the governor and the parole board, very few lifers are released, Mullane writes, and often wait up to 15 years between parole hearings. Boasting gripping, top-notch journalism, Mullane pierces the myth of the unredeemable killer with these portraits of troubled men in a society that fears and reviles them.”
“The Last Hunger Season is a beautiful story, and readers will find themselves pulling for these farmers to make it…. Thurow makes it clear this is the solution for Africa’s repeated food crises. There are challenges—training a whole continent of farmers, adequate storage for grains, better seeds, and transportation to bigger markets—but they are all surmountable with the will and resources. These farmers have experienced their last hunger season. There is no reason why the rest of the world’s one billion hungry people can’t do the same.”
“It's the relationships Mullane builds, and the stories she tells -- particularly those of the five paroled murderers who compose the central focus of the book -- that move the book beyond policy analysis and into something profoundly human…. Their stories are complicated and compelling. When these men meet obstacles, as they surely do, you will be shocked by your desperation to turn the pages and learn that things work out for them.”
Catholic San Francisco
“[Life After Murder] brings out in a unique way the humanity of America’s millions of prisoners serving sentences for murder."
“A poignant, enlightening look at ‘Life After Murder’…. [Mullane] makes no excuses nor seeks sympathy for her subjects.”
“Life After Murder provides a revealing glimpse into the prison system in California,…. [Mullane] builds a convincing case for a reexamination of parole policies for reformed inmates [and] captures moments of startled reentry with vivid detail.”