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Lisa M. Perez
3.0 out of 5 starsTale as Old as Time
Reviewed in the United States on January 14, 2020
This is a tough read. Not only is it a sad first-hand account of the continual issues of the judicial system, but it brings up moral questions that one must discover for oneself. This is an old, unresolved story...but the author, who is not a particularly likeable character, adds his personal experience and biases which adds to the story. Overall, a worthwhile read especially for advocates for prison reform. We must do better as a species.
Reviewed in the United States on November 10, 2011
Certain stories can only be told from those people who actually experienced them. Rev. Pickett began his job as the chaplain to death row inmates who were hours away from execution with the mindset that capital punishment didn't really involve him. He didn't really take a part in it, and his job would be simple. He would talk to the inmates for several hours, and then the execution would take place. Piece of cake, right?
His memoir shows just how difficult his job turned out to be. Each man approached his impending death in a different way. Some were remorseful, some angry, some professed innocence, and others didn't comprehend what was about to happen (he talks about one man in particular who was so mentally disabled that he was playing with crayons and coloring books hours before he was supposed to die). Each inmate that passed through Rev. Pickett's life left an imprint on him.
The book chronicles the journey of a man's transition from death penalty support to complete opposition. One of the most moving parts about this book is how the deaths of men that were undoubtedly guilty affected him. Clearly, counseling a man who is about to be executed that you know or suspect is innocent will put anyone through the emotional meat-grinder. Spending time with a man who is severely mentally disabled that is about to be put to death will also wear a person down. However, counseling men he knew to be guilty still gnawed away at his conscience.
Whether or not you agree with his position on capital punishment, the book is informative and spell-binding. Although I warn you: read it with a box of tissues!
Reviewed in the United States on November 20, 2017
Touching and very insightful. I highly recommend it for an in depth look at the tdcj Huntsville unit and its operating procedures regarding the death penalty. A few contradictions i noticed with the Rev. Picketts views on the death penalty. But a very wonderful piece. I encourage anyone considering this book to read it. I am very touched by the work Rev. Pickett was able t accomplish for those lost souls.
Reviewed in the United States on December 31, 2017
The author ''s career and his accounting of it is heartfelt and thought provoking. I have always supported capital punishment and still do. However, I see a broader picture of those impacted by or close to carrying out the process. I am grateful for the author's many years of service to those incarcerated and those who paid the ultimate price for their crimes.
Interesting perspective and well written. Rev. Pickett paints a great picture in his description of his duties as Chaplain. I disagree with his views on the Death penalty, but I respect his opinion and dedication
This is about a Reverend who works in a Texas prison offering comfort to those incarcerated and also to those who arrive for their last day before execution by lethal injection. This book is quite sad in places and shows prisoners able to change their lives around, those who are sorry for what they have done, tragic suicides, and pure evil. Most of the inmates are ones who are the reverend believes are sorry and those who go on to change their lives, but others arrive to be killed are not necessarily guilty which is disturbing. He describes the fear he sees in their eyes before they day and its very sad to read this as we healthy people can only imagine the fear and imagining it will never come close to how terrifying it might really feel, knowing you are about to die and there is nothing you can do about it. He describes the prisoners well and i feel this book could change peoples minds about the death senntence. Its a very interesting and easy to read and one I def recommend.
5.0 out of 5 starsgive it to your minister, vicar, priest
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 11, 2013
What must it be like to be the last minister/priest that a person sentenced to death sees? How many of us could cope with that situation? Yet here are the biographical writings of a man who did that work. He is, of course, against the death penalty feeling that it achieves nothing and has wider consequences than 'deserved punishment'. However, with those beliefs he also has the Christian compassion to continue to minister to those about to die. The book is calmly written, there is no gory detail, there is just the continual challenge of ministry to those who are about to have their lives taken from them by the state.
A thought provoking and sincere account of a personal experience. Rev Pickett clearly demonstrates the futility of the death penalty, and shows love and compassion to all humanity. I've never supported the death penalty and this book reaffirmed my position, whilst opening my mind and heart to those condemned to death. Whatever your stance on the death penalty, I would recommend reading this book and questioning your stance as you read.
This is the kind of book that everyone should read, whatever their stance on or knowledge about the death penalty. The book is essentially a biography of the former chaplain at the Walls unit in Texas. It doesn't deal with "day to day" life on death row, but gives a perspective on executions from the point of view of someone in the establishment. It's powerful and moving.