1st Edition

Machinery of Death The Reality of America's Death Penalty Regime

Edited By David R. Dow, Mark Dow Copyright 2002

    Thurgood Marshall said that the more people learned about the death penalty, the more they'd be against it. It's racist, unfair to poor people and the mentally retarded, and far too often ends horribly in the state sanctioned murder of innocents. And no one, no matter how much they're paid, likes to be involved with death itself. In Machinery of Death , death penalty lawyer David R. Dow and writer Mark Dow bring together diverse views from lawyers, wardens, victims' families, executioners and inmates to show how America's death penalty system actually works, and what it does to those who come in contact with it. Arguing that the more we know about the system the more we'll oppose it, the book offers harrowing story after story of racist juries and unjust rulings, of backward judges and public defenders, and of families facing the ultimate decision. Together, these intimate and shocking writings show that in practice, the death penalty is impossible to administer in a fair, workable manner. This is the first death penalty book to look beyond innocence and morality, arguing against executing even the guilty people. Machinery of Death is a crucial link in the fiery public debate over the meaning and usefulness of this deeply flawed system.


    David R. Dow is George Butler Research Professor of Law at the University of Houston. Since 1988, he has represented more than twenty-five death row inmates. Mark Dow is a Brooklyn based freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Progressive, The Miami Herald, The Boston Herald, and The Texas Observer.Christopher Hitchens is a best-selling author and a regular columnist for The Nation and Vanity Fair.

    "A thoughtful and compelling book written by people who struggle on the front lines with the machinery of death. It exposes the critical fault-lines: how race and poverty continue to matter; how innocent people can end up on death row; and how constitutional rights are routinely ignored by state and federal judges. Anyone who wants to know how the death penalty really works in America should read this book." -- Barry Scheck, Co-Author, Actual Innocence, and Co-Director, The Innocence Project
    "This volume brings together lawyers, prison officials, social workers, journalists, and relatives of murder victims who have intimate knowledge of the machinery of the death penalty." -- Future Survey
    "A compilation of testimonial essays brought together by death penalty lawyer David Dow and journalist Mark Dow, builds the case that the death penalty in any form is irrefutably and inexcusably not decnt. The editors bring together the voices of lawyers, prison personnel, and relatives of murder victims to bear witness to the reality of the death penalty in America." -- Margaret M. Chaplin, M.D., Psychiatric Services
    "'Machinery of Death' maps familiar fault lines of capitl punishment: its condemnation by the international community; its randomness, striking innocents along with the guilty; its concentration on certain jurisdictions and not others; and its inherent and apparently ineradicable racism. What's new in this remarkable collection of essays is that each was written by a person who has seen the death machine first hand-- attorneys, prison officials, social workers, journalists, and relatives of murder victims-- and how that intimate experience altered their lives." -- The Angolite: The Prison News Magazine