Great topic, so-so book. Life After Murder: Five Men in Search of Redemption describes the current treatment of convicted murderers in California, who after decades in prison can be deemed worthy of release by a professional review board only to be ordered to stay, indefinitely, by a governor who has full power to do so. It seems so wasteful, if not unethical, and redolent of a medievally absolute power, to allow one person to undo the careful evaluation of an entire team, doesn’t it?
In any case, the author brings us five men who committed murders long ago, when they were young and, for some, through peculiar circumstances that seem to be almost by accident, and who are now models of virtue, restrain, and maturity — but don’t seem to be able to get out of prison. Most people would agree that they pose no real danger to society and that they should not be subjected to the unrestrained whim of the governor. Unfortunately because those five are so “perfect” it begs the question of whether they are mere exceptions and few facts are provided to explore the larger picture (although it seems that the few prisoners that are released are remarkably trouble-free, but this may just bolster the claims of those who want the governor to say no almost all the time.) And why subject the poor reader to reams of boring court proceedings? Summaries would suffice.