Imprisoned by the Past
Warren McCleskey, Race, and the American Death Penalty
Prof. Jeffrey L. Kirchmeier
Reviews and Awards
"In McCleskey v. Kemp, the Supreme Court egregiously blinked-finding that patterns of life-or-death decisions in Georgia cases could be explained on no basis other than race, yet approving Georgia's use of the death penalty nonetheless. Imprisoned by the Past for the first time exposes the complex and disturbing reasons why the Supreme Court stumbled so badly in McCleskey and how the nation has been struggling ever since to extricate itself from a flawed and historically tainted punishment." -James S. Liebman, author of The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution "
"Imprisoned by the Past is an important and compelling history of the United States death penalty. By placing that history next to the story of Warren McCleskey and the role of race, Jeff Kirchmeier provides new insight into the legacy of capital punishment and the status of the death penalty today. Anyone interested in understanding the sweeping scope of death penalty history and its human story will want to read this book." -Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking and The Death of Innocents "
"The Definitive examination of a case that might have revolutionized criminal Justice in the United States." - Evan J. Mandery, author of A Wild Justice: The Death and Resurrection of Capital Punishment in America "
"This is an incredible book and indeed one of the most important death penalty books that has appeared on American bookshelves in recent decades. It is bound to be adopted in courses in Criminal Law and Criminology, and, in addition, will be widely read by practitioners and the wider public who are looking for a first-rate introduction to the way the death penalty works, and does not work, in modern American society." -Michael L. Radelet, co-author of In Spite of Innocence: Erroneous Convictions in Capital Cases "
"No legal decision in the last half of the 20th century characterized America's continuing failure to confront its history of racial inequality more than the McCleskey decision. Jeff Kirchmeier's welcomed and insightful book brings much needed context and perspective to this critically important issue. Compelling and thoughtful, this book is a must read for those trying to understand America's death penalty and its sordid relationship to our failure to overcome three centuries of racial injustice." -Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy: A Short Story of Justice and Redemption"
"...Kirchmeier makes a persuasive case that an examination of the death penalty today reveals that "the past is still present" (p. 314). Imprisoned by the Past, Kirchmeier's significant contribution to capital punishment scholarship, impressively marshals a compelling body of historical and contemporary evidence in support of that sobering conclusion." -James R. Acker, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books"
"Kirchmeier's is a valuable book. He combines history with clear legal analysis." -Jeff Gamso, Gamso-For The Defense blog"