tv Book TV After Words CSPAN July 5, 2013 7:00am-8:01am EDT
in it they examined for capital punishment cases that they say defined the parameters that judges must follow in order to uphold a death sentence on appeal. the program is about one hour. >> host: well, i wanted to talk to you both, i find the topic is just incredibly important, and important dialogue going on in the u.s. my first question i wanted to ask you was what compelled you to write this book? wasn't from particular experience? wasn't something that gave you -- >> guest: we found was so many cases at the supreme court if one focuses on the legal issues as they should are the stories behind the legal issues are compelling. they are fascinating and it's particularly true with death penalty cases. we found what happened before the crime, what happened during the crime, what happened before the court's decision, how the
court decided. and often after the court's decision what happened. which is fascinating stories. >> guest: the more we dug in this will take you from the scene of the crime writing to the supreme court conference in many of those cases and shows you the repercussions. >> guest: we are storytellers. and we have stories to tell. i think the most important thing about writing a book as having something to say. here we had important decisions. landmark decisions, tough decisions. 10 of the 15 cases we focus on split the supreme court 5-4. and stories running decisions that we like novels we think. >> host: i completely agree. i think one of the quotes that have found that i especially really like was from former congressman jim klein, and he said it's a little hard to believe that you have a nonfiction book you can't put down. and i thought that was especially appropriate because they feel like this book, it's different from a lot of nonfiction work that i have
read. and that it really does read like a thriller. it really does come it takes the legal discussions and injection energy side to it. >> guest: we like to think it's an important book in the sense that it tells you how the court works. there are so few books out there that explain what's the process, how do they go about this, how do they decide these cases, what a thing to one another? we see these cases out of split the court 5-4. what do they think works to the personal feelings get in a? it's a book not just about capital punishment, it's also the court operates. >> guest: when you dig in the notes in the library of congress, the memoranda, the notes back and forth between justices that are available, and a lot of stuff is available, you at least -- i'm not a lawyer. i plead not guilty, but i was just fascinated by the human
side of it. in many cases justices come you can see justices have reservations about capital punishment. >> guest: one case, willie francis, martin, you did although the research on that case. >> guest: it look like a dry supreme court decision. could've stayed make a second attempt on capital punishment? you discover it is all kinds of ingredients. the year is 1946. louisiana has a traveling electrielectric chair. it would take it from parish to parish, county to county. they would display the electric chair on the county courthouse at noon and invite school kids by the classes to come and make a field trip and look at the electric chair. don't do bad stuff, this chair is waiting. they then would take the chair inside, hook it up to a generator on the truck and invite the victim our mandate the victim into the chair. in this particular case, 17 year old willie francis who have tell the pharmacist during a robbery
was put in the chair, strap in, the electrodes attached to his ankle into his head, and as one witness told, the executioner said goodbye, willie, and willie didn't go anywhere. >> guest: doesn't happen. >> guest: the chair malfunctioned. willie francis had minor burns but they took them back to his cell. that became a sober supreme court case. was a double jeopardy to put the man in the electric chair again. the court eventually decide it was only accidental. that you could put willie francis in the chair again. justice frankfurter who voted for the execution because he felt constitutionally mandated to do it was so disturbed he went behind his fellow justices backs, quite literally, to a friend in louisiana, very powerful in the louisiana state bar and urged him to do everything he could to stop what he felt would be a travesty. the attorney did attempt to stop
the execution. he could not. willie francis died a year later, in the same hearst that have been waiting for him a year before took his body away. >> guest: one thing we find over and over again that justice will split 5-4 over whether this person should be executed to even those who wrote in favor of execution that great misgivings not about the law but about the wisdom of going through with the death penalty. throughout its history and the united states supreme court from the 1960s on, we found justices would both uphold the death sentence even though the pushed himself it was wrong, they felt any democracy this is a decision that the people must make. state legislators must make and it's not for us to decide. >> host: and i thought just to cut take a look at the unique and very interesting kind of research you did, and i thought the francis case was interesting. and that you went and you went into these, went to the gas
chambers and went to see these shares, the electric chairs. i just wanted about what the experience was like. >> guest: no death row inmate has that in as many electors as we have. to remind you about capital punishment is all about. that in this room life is being taken away by the state and do something about it more deeply. incidentally, they're summoned questions about capital punishment. a difficult one of course is whether to have it but once you decide to have it as the united states has, how it operates, who should be executed and what are the rules, those questions turn out to be even more difficult. >> guest: i think there's i call them knee-jerk theories about capital punishment. one is it's terrible. it's an abomination. we shouldn't have it. and the other is that it is an instrument of justice that
publicly proper. if we shake either of those knee-jerk theories, it would cause people to think i will was decided this book is a success. >> host: i think that's an excellent point. this is a huge and wonderful contribution to the discussion. and i wanted to just out of touch on what you just said. the united states is one of the few industrialized democratic countries that still practices capital punishment. >> guest: the only one we think the vessel of the western industrial democracy that practices the death penalty host that you believe this to be relayed to the challenges we face in reforming, and gun violence? >> guest: that's a really, that's a tough question. i sometimes think, i don't know the into to that question but sometimes think our culture is all different when it comes to crime and punishment than most other western democracies.
guns are more readily available here than in any other western democracy. countries like the united kingdom, it they are not there. and yet we have one of the highest murder rates. so what do we do? we have capital punishment and we find that in the states that have the death penalty, they also have the highest crime rates, primarily in the south. and in the states that do not have capital punishment, like the northeast primarily, they have the lowest crime rate. is very cause-and-effect? i don't know. what comes first, the chicken or the a? is if they have the death penalty in the south because they have such high murder rates or is it the other way around? the answer might depend on who you ask. opponents of capital punishment will look at it one way, and the proponents look at it another way, and what we did find though is in this debate when you look at the crimes and to look at the
criminals who commit these crimes, as we do in this book, you find a great deal of sympathy for the death penalty. it's easy to support the death penalty when you look at the crimes in this book, and the criminals. but when you look at the system, you have to have some pause. lewis powell throughout his career supported the death penalty. later conclude it was a mistake, and it just doesn't work the way it's supposed to. then one i thought the point i thought that resonated with the daryl atkins case. i know as part of the research you did to actually interview with his mother. i just wanted to know, not so much about the content but just about what that experience was like. >> guest: a fascinating case. athens versus virginia the supreme court held you can execute someone who by state law
is mentally impaired, retarded, whatever that level is. it's a very tough case because most killers are not the brightest light in the house, and so and as dimly, on the dems side as, should they be spared for the? and who should make that call? should be the united states supreme court or should it be the jury that sees the defendant in court? in this case, another one of those cases that is truly, it's a fascinating story and lately it's very important. this was a cold-blooded murder. stop some guy outside of a convenience store, forced them in the car, made him drive to a bank, nat machine, took out a couple hundred bucks and drove them out in the wilderness, told them to get out and shot him dead. left him there. justice scalia and writing the opinion in this case sounded like prosecutors he shot him once, twice, three, four.
i mean, well, the supreme court ruled that he could not be executed because he is mentally retarded. but how do you find what's mental retardation? three juries said he qualifies for capital punishment under virginia law. the virginia sprinkler send it back to a fourth jury to determine whether he was really retarded. and before the jury to reach a verdict, they found there were some prosecutorial misconduct in the 12 years earlier in the judgment threw up his hands and said that's it, he gets life without parole. so the inmate who brought this case that led to the landmark supreme court decision, his case was not affected by the decision at all. just an amazing story, and the twists and turns in the case. and by the way, we worked on something to help people understand the crime, we have something called qr code in the book. martin is more techie than i am
with the driving force behind us and we think it's a really unique feature in the book that will make it more appealing to our readers. >> guest: what's helpful is that the technology can you take a smart phone or a tablet and you literally wavered over the code in the book and to get the video of the atkins case or any of the other cases we covered. >> guest: one of the cases we covered him of what he can have the death penalty for juveniles. somebody who's under 18. this case involved a 17 of who seemed to be only 40 kilobits. took an ugly woman out on the bridge, push off, she drowned, and they picked him up at his high school the next day and within hours he gave a tearful confession to police. we describe this in the book but then if you put your phone over the code you can see the confession yourself and when a neat way to cover, it almost
takes the reader to even more into the book. i was wondering what was the thought behind the question think this is the direction in which books are going to be headed? especially nonfiction because it really does create a great opportunity to grab your readers. >> guest: martin would explain this. i didn't understand what was. it kind of blew me away. >> guest: i can't predict which way the publishing industry is going to go because lord knows where the publishing industry is going to go these days. but for me, i need to not only d.c. for example, if you pull up the video of simmons, the boy who confessed come you see that on his confession in the police station, but then the police taking back to the bridge so he can show the police where he threw the woman off the bridge. to me, that brings you literally
to the scene of a crime and has an emotional impact that we think we are pretty good writers but no way we can give you that had been backed. >> guest: you don't see the on evening news and you don't read about in newspapers. made for television movies will try to duplicate it but this is the real thing. and i do think, you know, if you're going to get involved, first of all, we all have a stake in this, but the fact you might not have the answers is perfectly understandable because it is a tough question. you don't have to have the answer and leisure sitting on some court. but if you look at these crimes, i think it helps you understand what it's all about. we talked to judges, we talked to lawyers, we talk to philosophers about capital punishment. sometimes i think lost in the debate might be the view of the undertakers who are there, pick up the body. they see firsthand what happens and that's in the book. >> guest: and we have met some of these animals.
we've met some people who, in my opinion, may beyond redemption. people are angry and these kind of animals are in the dock, i can understand the feeling, indeed, the desire for retribution. >> guest: one of the things we've also, ever talks with the debate over whether the death penalty tears, and a lot of that also depends on who you ask but there really is no convincing evidence that it doesn't deter. the supreme court has sort of bob peck, whether does deter, we don't know. we saw in the real support for capital punishment now comes not in the name of deterrence or rather in the name of retribution, some call it revenge, some call it justice. to us it's all the same thing. it's perfectly understandable. i've spoken to loved ones left behind when someone is killed, in a way the person killed often gets off the easiest. he's gone. but the family, it's as painful
to them for the rest of their lives. they never forget. some of the relatives that i've spoken with actually had crusader against capital punishment. i would say what about the person who killed your father? will you make a pitch to that person, for clemency to the court to spare the person from the death penalty? i can't do that. perfectly understandable to me. >> host: it's very clear that both of you are very passionate about this. i was reading that you actually were saying that you'll have thought about writing a book like this 20 years ago. it was just a matter of time tot our streets as to what was going on then that kind of started this conversation. >> guest: it's all amtrak's fault. this book was born on a metro line. headed from washington new york. tim and i wil were continue to t a piece we shot for 2020 on juvenile crime and the death penalty. and the more we talked, the more
we thought about it. somewhere in between delaware and new york city we decided we had to write a book. trouble is, we are both world-class procrastinator. we have a lot of other things on a plate and it took us a long time to get there. >> as martin says we are world-class procrastinator's but i insist we are not quitters. although sometimes a distinction is hard to make between, but we did put off for a long time and we are both semiretired. we're still doing a lot of work. i find i may be doing more work than i did when i was at abc news, only i'm not getting paid as well. we said this is something that's worth our energy. and besides, i don't want to run into in a rest home saying we should have done it but it was your fault, or the other what, you say that to me. we felt it was a worthwhile project. and most importantly it's an important issue and we have something to say. we have stories to tell and legal principles to explain, and wked very well on the.
martin is a storyteller from way back when with 2020. i've and legal analysis for abc news for 20 plus years. it was energy that worked out very well. >> host: i'm curious as to where you see, you know, how does this book and fit into the larger discussion, you know, with groups like the innocence project and the recent exoneration of, due to dna evidence, where do you think this book fits into that? >> guest: that's a very good question which are book in recent events bring to light. because the prospect of exiting the innocent has always been a concern. always been an argument against capital punishment. it's much more real, much more large than we actually thought it was. >> guest: researchers from the columbia university law school funding case in texas -- found a
case in texas that is almost certainly a case of mistaken execution. proponents are often challenged, find is a real case to find is a truly innocent person was executed. this is probably the case in texas is probably it. it's a case of a eyewitness testimony gone wrong but it's a case of people being in the wrong place at the wrong time. but when you look at the man who was executed and the man who is now presumed to be guilty of the crime side by side in photographs, you have a hard time telling the difference. our book doesn't take an advocacy position. this is not a book for or against capital punishment. the goal of this book is to show you the questions. we do come to some conclusions about how the system doesn't work but we're not here to tell you whether or not capital punishment is right or wrong. >> guest: the list of executing the innocent passed on some string reaction from some of the justices. say look, it would be good if,
might help your cause if you could point to one. well, we can assume that so many have been acceded as innocent. even then, no one ever said the system is perfect. are going to do away with all punishment because mistakes do happen? no. the mechanism, given human error, so mistakes. except when there's a mistake in a capital case there's a remedy. the person is gone. well, death is different in their some justice on the court said the process has to be saying. so yet the very basic disagreement between justices were very concerned about the risk of error and other justices who say they're concerned but it doesn't affect the outcome whether you should have it or not have it house of representatives i wanted to take a step back because i know we got touched about this earlier. and i thought it was just an interesting, you all have a similar and yet kind of different background. i just wanted to talk a little
bit about the process of co-authorship and i wanted to hear about how that worked. >> guest: it is america we're sitting in the same room at the same table. [laughter] point of fact, a point of fact. in point of fact it was a delight. 490% of the time. trying to any other 10% it was one of% not a delight. >> guest: the most widely used phrase from both of us in almost equal utterances was, it can't say that. i think having a friendship for 40 years to build on helped us survive all of the bombs. >> guest: also think what we found, we did eat up most of the chapters and some we worked on together. but there was an abiding respect one another's work and it's his job to i would say martin, i would make this change or that change, but you would have the final say.
and the same with my chapters. he would make recommendations to me. when we were all done i must say when i read the book i felt all the changes we made were very beneficial, and i like to think that i helped out your copy. and we did have some disagreements, and some of them were strong but at the end of the day we reached a solution that we both really thought was best. the disagreements we had yielded much more light than heat. house of representatives and so i want to also talk about, i thought it's interesting here, your title choice. because it reads trenton. it reads thriller and it kind of, i wonder if you get a perfectly. >> we were looking for a think of our publishers that we have done a thing and it about capital punishment, that's certainly been done before but i said martin, we want to tell stories and also explain the law. and from time to time we, in the
20. where he couldn't quite agree in what we're doing and we said someday we will do it, we got together and said 15 will be murder at the supreme court, how about the cases, the crimes that make the law? and all these kinds, you didn't -- these other crimes that the supreme court used to make the law, to shape the law, to define the law of capital punishment. when we agreed on that, you know, that's it. and the publisher change it to legal crimes, lethal crimes in landmark cases. but the fact that we had agreed on a -- i think it works. >> guest: coming up with that theme, the unifying theme was the hard part for us. we made several false starts over the years we must admit. >> guest: there's another book called murder in the supreme court.
that is a novel about a murder at the supreme court or in the supreme court. they're concerned about that, you know, we weren't going to let that get in the way. this is "murder at the supreme court" and that's how the supreme court is murder and the punishment that is appropriate for it. but i think it is a good time and it does capture with the book is about the these are all lethal crimes and what the court said about them, produce landmark decisions. >> host: i have to say i think what's neat about the title and the way the book is done with the barcodes and where the stories are told is that i think it kind of opens it up to books are not necessarily nonfiction readers. i was just curious if it was done intentionally. did you know there's going to be the outcome tragedy i think from the get-go my thought was and i sometimes difficulty of abc news were i had a terrific story, they never said no to me to go out and interview the people who
brought the case which was an amazing liberty intrigue for me. i would come back because i have two stories for you, i have the decision from the supreme court that you want but i have decided is human interest story behind the decision that you really want to and they said we would give you another five seconds. it was so frustrating have these great stories that i could not the other one too. i said were going to do a book about capital punishment we could say more about the decision, not just what was but what went into it. and the story behind. and martin as a storyteller, that resonated within. he likes to tell stories and we had worked together on death penalty stories at 21 which are such a treat for me to go out with you, out tocaloma to work on death penalty for juveniles, a very important case. the opportunity to explain issues in that kind of detail and tell the stories behind that case was such a treat that you
have the luxury on 2020 to the time but i didn't but it was a real treat for me. >> guest: it wasn't a case of getting another few seconds. >> guest: you have no idea what that meant to me. to me it was an out of body experience, and a very good one. house of representatives and i think we're going to go to a break now. but thank you so much. >> host: and i wanted to take a moment to kind of get into the real meat of the book and talk about some of the cases that really stuck out to you both. >> guest: one of the truly landmark cases, anyone who practices death penalty law and lots of people who don't are the
mayor of the gays gregg v. georgia. the supreme court to the death penalty in 1972 finding it was implemented in arbitrary, capricious amanda. that was like getting struck by lightning but you never know who's going to be executed. the state of remote that has been the laws and another case came up in 1976 called gregg v. georgia would have the opportunity to see what the states have done, what george had done and perhaps reinstate capital punishment but it was a huge case because opponents thought are the decision was just the first two and they could use a gregg case to rid the country of capital punishment once and for all. supporters of said, we can get humpty dumpty back on the wall if the georgia law is upheld. troy grade was a hitchhiker who was picked up a couple of good time charlie's a stop to get a case of beer and had to go to the restroom and to stop him when they came back, gregg had a gun and shot them both at point
blank range to steal the money and steal the car. the question was could he get a death sentence. the supreme court look at how george had written a celebrity required, one, either credit -- a bifurcated truck, a second that which is much more open ended to determine what the character of this person and what was so bad about the crime that would justify a death sentence. the court said the georgia law is fine. other states scrambled to meet what was georgette dunphy didn't get what george has done. they would also and gregg be the first person to be executed. and in a way he was but not the way anybody thought. the night before his scheduled execution he escaped from prison with four other inmates, said to be the worst killers in georgia history. the crimes they had committed were too gruesome even for our book which has some gruesome stories in it. they escaped, when up to north carolina.
some of the escapees were members of a motorcycle gang called the outlaws. i got together with some old friends and gregg made the unfortunate mistake of slighting the girlfriend of one of the bikers, and they threw into the ground and stomped him to death. his body was found floating in a nearby lake a couple days later all the others were apprehended by gregg, the escape which was so daring got him another 24 hours and that's about it. >> guest: he died, executed in a different way than the law had intended. you can't make this stuff up. >> guest: but these stories before the truck, before the crime, and after the crime, after the supreme court's decision, we find them fascinating. if you're a journalist and you're a writer, you want to have good stories to tell. there are others. we had one where the issue for the supreme court was whether you could forcibly medicate a paranoid schizophrenic inmate to
make them well enough to be executed. >> guest: the court had already decided okay, somebody is crazy, you can't put them to death. if somebody becomes insane after conviction, you can't put him to death to cuba have a case of somebody was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic after being condemned. the state of georgia wanted to medicate him so they could execute him. >> guest: against his will. >> guest: no pills, thank you very much. they want to medicate him so he would become sane enough to execute. that became a big supreme court issue. the court looked at it, accepted the case because it was an interesting question, and then for some reason posted. it did not decide the question that gets handed down to the lower court for re-examination. i talked to the trial judge to whom it was an back and he said i was scratching my head. i've no idea what these guys won't. they returned the case.
eventually the louisiana state supreme court made the case you couldn't medicate ask you by the supreme court didn't make the decision in that case. >> guest: one of the things we uncovered in this case was this inmate, this murder, michael perry, was arrested here in washington, d.c. and actually comcounted down here, was talkig supreme court justice sandra day o'connor. i mean, that surprises. she still persisted in the case. she didn't remember because unfortunately those things do happen with supreme court justices, victims of threats. but as martin was saying, is a death sentence was later set aside by the louisiana supreme court. and not what we hear is he has a whole wing to himself in the georgia state penitentiary at angola because he spends the wee hours of the morning wandering the halls shouting at people and he can see and hear.
>> guest: i started this book misspeaking. this is a louisiana case and the louisiana state penitentiary to my mistake. >> guest: another one of those cases, another one of those issues that are very, very top at the supreme court said what you do with an inmate, when he's on death row or not, but doesn't want to take his medication was and the court said, well, if you can show that it is medically necessary, you can for someone medicate him. but what doctors going to suggest is medically necessary so you can kill the guy? another one of the issues, i used to lie awake at night think thinking of, it's so troubling that because i cared which was the right way to go, but these are puzzles. in this case the question was, can use the victims impact statement which are deciding whether this person committed the crime, should the jury hear about the impact on loved ones left behind? there were three cases, i think
the three most horrible cases in the book. initially the court said you can't because if you do, somehow, if someone, the relatives are articulate and speaking about what the law -- loss is, the perpetrator might get a death sentence. if it happens to be someone who doesn't have articulate relatives, loved ones left behind, or somebody nobody really knew, well then the perpetrator might escape the death penalty. should have no bearing. should be based solely on the crime and the criminal. i would like awake at night on figure what's the right answer? because it does seem relevant what the impact is. the supreme court divided 5-4, just as little as -- justice lewis powell writing the decision saying is that relevant to just look at the crime and the criminal. he left the court and another case came up. they flip the decision in a heartbeat.
in a washington, d.c. supreme court harvey which is a couple of years. it was on the change in personnel but it. the court went 5-4 the other way. >> guest: the consequences are fastened. if you die with no relatives to speak for you, that's a different situation. is the since going to be depended upon the survival of the victim's relatives and their relevance? scary stuff. >> guest: i still think that's a tough call. i don't know what the right answer is but fortunately all we have to worry about is presenting the question probably. we don't have to have the answers. also, when you look at these cases you understand the real difference between having an opinion, which were all in so doing take no responsibility for usually, and making a decision. john roberts when he was nominated to be chief justice addressed that in his confirmation and. when you have to make a decision with with allies on the lines, you look at these cases differently. >> host: that's an interesting point because i know a lot of
this book is about you gathering the information but i sense that you have an opinion on this and think it is somewhat weaved throughout the book. do you think of any sort of impact on the way that you -- guess but i sort help it is not weaved throughout the book. we tried very hard not to tip our hand guess that what we found was when we're talking with his brutal crimes and criminals, the book at sort of the pro-death penalty killed and that troubled us. >> guest: initially we did not want to present any conclusions. we wanted it to be sort of hands off here are the facts, you decided the problem, it's our because of all the brutality of these kinds. the crimes they get to the a supreme court on not your 7-11 robberies or domestic homicide. these are for the most part crimes against innocent people who were were in the wrong place at the wrong time. committed by people are very violent, very screwed up people. the more we present the details
of those crimes, the more viscerally we felt readers would feel, okay, death penalty is just fine. we take no position by the death penalty. you guys decide that. but we concluded and we concluded we had to conclude for the sake of our readers and to be honest, we had to present our reservations with the way the system works. not one that you should have the death penalty but the fact that the system does not seem to work and any equitable way. it's been more than 200 years, the brightest, most caring, most dedicated minds in our society in state legislatures, on the bench, on the supreme court, and the legal community have tried to figure out a way to fairly administer a death penalty, to do it in an equitable manner that would all be comfortable with. >> guest: in 1970 the supreme court threw out capital punishment because it found everything implement and they want an arbitrary capricious manner. 40 years later it does in any
better to us despite all that fine-tuning the court has done. we find that race figures into it. not so much the race of the perpetrator although that is a factor but the race of the victim. we find that poverty them we find of all the people on death row have one of three things in common, abject poverty, victims of child abuse, little or no education. and have to ask yourself, that's not an excuse but that's not a defense budget some extent my would be executing them because of the sense of the parents? it gives me some pause. also another problem is they are all broke. they have no money. they don't have good lawyers. sometimes in some celebrated cases the quality of legal representation is superb, but into many of them it's absurd. i mean, people are since to die not because they committed the worst of crimes but rather because they had the worst lawyers. and we see that over and over again. these arbitrary factors figure
in but should have no bearing on it at all. >> guest: and longtime moran at san quinn put to death 90 people. he said i never executed a rich person. >> guest: the question still is out there, theoretically, if you could do it in a rational way. and if you do it in such a manner that it really does deter, and i really does better than anything else, sir society demands for retribution but it's interesting recognition, should you still have it. well, it's not brain surgery. the facts are out there and i think everyone should be looking into the own hard and make their own decision on the morality of the death penalty. we offer no opinion on that at all. but only as a practical matter it doesn't seem to work the way anybody had hoped.
>> host: i know this discussion is an evolving discussion and i was curious as to when you're doing a research was there any case that kind of stuck out to you that you think might have gone differently if it had been done or tried today? >> guest: well, you know, i've been trying to figure what the supreme court will do for many years and my closest friends can we sometimes bet dinners on them. to get the right answer you think of have to study the case. that's not the way, you want to get the right answer you look at the courts. i sometimes think of the court as one organism with a multiple personality disorder, and how is going to do this what and how is it going to go that way. and what does depend on the court. one of the things we have found is the court has been equally divided on this issue for many, many years. it is going to be any change, it's going to be as a result of a change in the composition of
the court. get a few more justices who oppose capital punishment, a few more states to do away with it and you could find a majority in the court, not today, not tomorrow but some point down the road saying we've had it, we're not going to do it anymore. you do find that most states are adopting fresh, but a number of states are slowly moving away from. and you are also finding that juries have become less prone to return death sentences. there are a number of reasons for that. for one when you have capital punishment that the public doesn't want to do and when you don't have and the public cries out for it. but also did. but also he united greece important supreme court decision which were ravens of the book. we don't go. we don't go into a great deal of detail about it but the supreme court has held that if there's an alternative sentence of life in prison with no parole, juries must be advised of that. if you are not advised of that you've got to do all over again.
so when juries know they have that choice, death or life without parole, this person will never see the light of taken outside a prison wall we find they are more inclined to vote for life in prison. we talk about being arbitrary and capricious. one of the strange things we know, there are now about 15,000 homicides a year in the u.s. that's down over the last few years. several hundred death sentences a year but over the last three or four years we been averaging about 40-50 death sentences -- execution. you see it is out of whack. so many different senses, so many homicides but so few executions. when gregg v. georgia was argued, it's arbitrary arbitrary capricious only in the sense that many killers deserving of the death penalty don't get it. don't get executed when they should. that's no reason to do away with it. maybe it is. look at it this way.
whether you say pick a card and you picked the wrong car, you're going to die. well, nobody would go along with it. that's bizarre. but in a way as a practical matter that's the way this seems to play out. you have no and who's going to be given a just and whether that sense will actually be carried out. except you do know that if the victim is black or if the victim is white, or the victim is, the perpetrator is poor, doesn't have any money, the death sentences more likely than if not. those are factors that should not play in it at all but they do. >> guest: the future of the court and its composition is one factor. what's happening in the states is interesting. 10 and i both live in maryland whether it's an interesting microcosm of over the national debate for two legislative sessions in 2007 and 2009, they were efforts pushed by the governor to repeal the death penalty in maryland.
that effort didn't succeed until just two months ago. the public opinion about the death penalty is interesting enough in maryland is in favor of it, but the support is soft. most of the people who support the death penalty also feel that it does not deter crime. things are changing of the state level. >> guest: one of the worst crimes in the book, was in one of the victim impact statements i was referring to earlier, in maryland as but one of the worst crimes, truly cold-blooded murder in 3-d. it was just horrible. he has been on death row for over 30 years. most of it people on death row seem to die of old age. >> guest: there's a matter of closure. at the relative gets murdered and someone gets a death sentence, you can be sure there will be 15-25 years of reviews and agony before there is
booth as a hearing -- >> guest: about once a year. one of the lessons we are told by the victims daughter, he looked at her and winked and said, see you next year. now, how bad is that? whereas if you of closure, a few, the family feels the only closure that would been anything for them would be boosted to be put to death. but real closure in our view might be more meaningful if you had a life sentence and all the appeals went away. but with the death penalty the appeals don't go away. congress has tried to short-circuit those appeals to create other concerns that maybe someone will be executed who was innocent or whose rights were violated at the trial. we don't want that either. one of the things we're finding, this country does have a very strong commitment to was called due process of law. sometimes referred to as simple fair play but it's a lot more than simple fair play.
we wante want there to be strons to protect all of us. and with those rules in place went to ask ourselves, maybe our society being what it is, maybe we've made it impossible to implement capital punishment any meaningful way. to be meaningful it must be swift and it must be certain. it's not going to be swift it seems with all the protections we now have in place. what do we do? do away with the protections? we said that's not the answer. >> host: that's an interesting question because the point you made earlier about how it's much more difficult or less likely forgeries to necessarily go the route of the death penalty, and i was curious if you thought that communism why that was. i know your book talked about the history of actually executions how they were, then became a bit disturbing and they then took it endorse. it's an interesting evolution, and just to think about where we are today do you think of the
quality of the evidence that now is available, is that the reason why the threshold is higher? why do you think that is? >> guest: more and more about evidence. what we used to think as gospel about forensic evidence, hair samples, for example, is not only question given the fact that there've been terrible for them to guidelines that led people in the wrong direction. the eyewitness testimony we are now learning is less and less reliable. there's a lot we're learning about how the criminal process works that we didn't know before. >> guest: the evolution of dna evidence gives i think jurors greater pause and more uncertainty about imposing a death sentence unless they're absolutely certain. maryland before it abolished capital punishment pass a law saying you either have to have dna evidence asked option guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, or the crime must of been committed on the table or something equally compelling for anybody to be given the death sentence.
the concern is great, and illinois have the death penalty for many years and the governor said, you know, research by the innocence project at northwestern law students show mistakes are made less than right. and i think jurors know about that. and unless proved is true beyond a reasonable doubt that has to be beyond beyond a reasonable doubt. for them to return a death sentence and i think that's one reason why you don't see as many. >> host: i've got your point about the disparate impact it's having on certain communities, especially with what's going on in maryland, was an interesting point. i just wanted to kind of go into that a little bit as it applies to the research and the discussion you had in your book. >> guest: well, you know, there's also the flipside of maryland and illinois, and that would be texas where there's no inclination there that they want to do away with capital punishment to anyone who's
running for office who proposes as much isn't running very long or isn't running very far. so i mean, there are pockets that really cry out for capital punishment. and i don't think that's going to change. >> guest: george is another and is an interesting phenomena in georgia going on right now. there's a shortage of chemicals with which to kill people. manufactures of the traditional cocktails have withdrawn permission for those to be used in execution and are not available. the state of georgia is in a quandary because it's a limited supply just expire. expiration date on the test tubes for the lethal injections make it impossible for them to inject them into anybody for any reason. now they have, say legislature just passed a law awaiting the governor's signature which imposed secrecy on the factor compounding pharmacies might be
hired to put chemicals together to be used in execution. under that law it would be a state secret about what the chemical was a state secret about who manufactured. a state secret that any physician who helped in the process. we are talking of capital punishment going undercover in a way that i think is pretty scary. >> guest: there's an effort to fight this. there's a poor decision in atlanta has been very helpful to us, which is trying very hard to say among other things that these inmates no matter how, these defenders government how guilty they may appear at least have adequate representation. and also make sure that these cases are exposed and the cameras are allowed in the courts in georgia to see what's going on. because i think a lot of people would be surprised but it doesn't work out as we think. >> host: and just to talk on that point as to when adequate
representation, like ensuring that that actually takes place, at one point do you find in your research did you find absolutely essential that this takes place? >> guest: it was 50 years ago this month, 50 years ago last month, march, that the supreme court ruled in gideon v. wainwright that in all state courts anyone charged with a felony should be entitled to counsel. and we find in many parts of the country that what they call adequate or effective assistance counsel assistance of counsel, is nothing more than having a lawyer there who says here's the deal. 25 years or 50 years going you should plead guilty. it happens on and people are pleading guilty to crimes because that's the best deal on going to get. you think i might be convicted. that does happen. i do think that judges go to
greater lengths to usher effective counsel in death penalty cases but still we have cases where lawyers have failed to show, where they showed up drunk in a double murder case. where the lawyers make mistakes, that clearly would have prevented a death sentence and it's too late. we just recently had a case before the supreme court where the inmate got new lawyers but his new lawyers didn't get information they need about the case and it was overlooked. we had some justices saying, well, that's too bad. he still should be executed. i mean, the system is broken. wherever you are on capital punishment, wherever you are on a moral question, you have to first get to the practical question, can we do any meaningful rational way? and their conclusion is we haven't. >> host: gentlemen, i wanted
to thank you so much. this is been a treat and i really, really appreciate it. >> guest: thank you. it is a pleasure being with you. >> host: thank you so much. that was "after words," booktv signature program and which office of the less nonfiction books are indeed the journalist, public policymakers, legislators and others familiar with the material. "after words" airs every weekend on booktv at 10 p.m. on saturdays, 12 and 9 p.m. on sunday, and 12 of them on monday. you can also watch "after words" online. ago to booktv.org and click on "after words" in the booktv series and topics list on the upper right side of the page. >> representative greg walden what is on your summer reading list? >> i just finished the victory lap, i do little political stuff on the site. that talks a lot about persuasion, digital did and how
the world of campaign to change but i'm hoping this summer to get to the biography on jefferson much i have on my pile, and then i have a new one on roosevelt, teddy roosevelt. i'm a big fan of theodore roosevelt, his energy and his style and also i've got one that deals mainly with his time down in south america. what should be interesting. >> let us know what you reading this summer. tweet us at the booktv, posted on her facebook page or send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. >> the old adage if you want, visible, you want to move the mass, you've got to move the chief is going to change the have you got to change it first. there's never been strong incentive for focus on the issue of information technology, technology generally. is not lost on any of us that the last group of people they're
going to come in and advocate in a budget crisis for technology over health care, or offer programs for seniors, don't exist. people don't line up with stickers but they don't line up in buses coming down this ago or state government demanding more information technology. and so the challenge for governmental leaders is to realize its potential and its possibility. and its meaning and its purpose. that said, does it surprise any of you that last week, big headline in the "l.a. times," department of motor vehicles just gave up on a six-year effort to update its 40 year old technology, the issuance of licenses. we have already spent more than half the money. it's not even close to halfway done, and they just into the contract. it is a surprise in the, talk about scandal in government, that the court system of california in 2004 identified a
$260 million upgrade that was to be complete in 2008, $260 million. today, the estimate is $1.9 billion to connect 58 counties and the case management system with no expectation insight that it will be done before 2015. the payroll upgrades in california, contracts, the contract was also just fired, got less attention a week ago than the dmv. the calpers, our big retirement system, consolidating 49 data centers into one, the cost overrun and $228 million and, therefore, now is more upset with the consolidation they were previously. yet we fix it, don't we, on something all of you know in california, and that is we had a few extra million dollars in the recreation and parks department that we didn't spend but the
money is still there and it was in use during the downturn. there's been hundreds of articles on the. and not about billions of dollars of waste and inefficiency. and i would argue corruption by those that service the industry but not service it will. so it's not a surprise -- >> so they didn't even know the money was there. it sort of went underground where it disappeared. >> no one is pleased with that and it deserves a lot of attention but my gosh think about all these other examples. if i can go on and on, those are -- >> are you telling me the government is not working as it should be? >> is not focus on this. >> where do the citizens coming? >> so increasingly, my argument in the book is there's this new digital divide taking place. it's less and less. five years ago if are on your show, and i was, we were talking about free wi-fi, the importance of dealing with socioeconomic issues of technology and
providing access to broadband and high speed not just access the ubiquity and a public housing. increasingly, that's beginning to take shape with the cost of these devices dropping precipitously. the cost as well as to access in america but you have seen access run the rest of the world. 63% people in india have access to cell phones, only 47% access to toilets. a world remarkably where we become more and more -- people talk about. but with government this divide continues to get wider and wider and wider. you are used to a world of them is a. you can shop 24 uzbek, '70s we, have something delivered and then you go to the dmv. you go down to local building department. you don't in and pay a parking ticket and all of a sudden you realize that divide. so my fear is this. citizens are now engaged. you. get more engaged directly as we move through a framework of not just social networks but
mobility, the localization of services and data access and the ubiquity of the clout. we're stuck with this old top down i.t. cartel mindset. i say lovingly. this notion that we could build the systems and servers in the world when i had this on demand resource, the clout and you're always getting the great, the next best iteration. you're renting, not even buying and yet we're still building in government spending you are saying it is no longer relevant? you say the clout potential everything. but when you talk about engaging, citizen to citizen, we're talking about a virtual engagement still, aren't we? >> i talk about peer-to-peer i think about -- i think it kick started, i could go on and on these examples where people are saying, kind of fed up with local government, state government, federal government. i'm sick and tired of haggling
around filibuster, cloture. i don't know what the heck that is, sequestration. who made that word up? i'm disconnected by want to solve problems i want to engage but i want to make a difference, particularly this younger generation, 30 and younger come this generation tak they call generation of choice, the net generation. we,. >> you have a great deal of faith in them but i must say in many respects aside from wanting to commit themselves because i worked with him as a college professor and so forth, the iraqi to great extent and we are certainly in campaigns, but perhaps maybe some of your compliments their is a bit inflated in terms of optimism, that commitment. they care about environmental issues. they care about their own secondary education but fixing government is what you're talking about. reforming government. a lot of them have checked out. >> as a means to deal with our
great challenges. on it, this generation is more empathetic than any other generation in history. this generation is more engaged peer-to-peer in volunteering, that data bears that out. .. >> in recent testimony before the house byes and means committee, acting irs commissioner daniel we are femme said his -- werfel said groups were targeted for extra scrutin