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When I first asked her about doing an interview for a book about writing and resistance, she answered: “Bring it on! We met years ago through a personal connection and have been close friends ever since.
NOR Many states have, in fact, pulled back on the death penalty?
PREJEAN The number of executions and death sentences is going down year by year.
NOR Most of the prosecutors don’t allow for a plea bargain? She heads up the ACLU John Adams Project, which puts millions of dollars into the defending of people accused and targeted from 9/11. But you’ve got to define child, because when you have a law you always have to have a cutting-off point.
She says the death penalty rests on the premise that we can entrust the government and the courts to set up criteria in some kind of predictable, reasonable, and lawful way to select and punish with death the “worst of the worst”—and do this according to norms of the Constitution. NOR So there are two trials—one for the guilty or not guilty determination, and the other for sentencing? Which is partly why the death penalty will always be more expensive than any other kind of trial. So you begin to have this hierarchy or this meritocracy: what is the status of some victims, that their killing would automatically make their killer eligible for the death penalty, but not others? So you can have parents come in before the judicial committee and say, “Our son was killed!
And Jason, again, said, “Well, it was cowardice, wasn’t it? It circumvents the perennial question of having “likeable” characters.
Do you think at a certain point in that the reader is rooting for you?
When the book was coming out in 1993, there was the hurdle of how my being a nun was going to play out with a story about a murderer.
Eighty percent of the population on average was for the death penalty—in Louisiana that was probably 90 percent.
” And you begin to see how arbitrary the whole thing is, and you can’t apply it—or you make a mess of applying it. That book is about how someone could be innocent and still be thrown into the death machine.
This is nothing to say for the biggest mistake: the huge number of innocent people we’ve wrongfully convicted, put on death row, and then exonerate—162 and counting. For it, I had to learn a lot about the appeal courts.