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Life After Murder: Five Men in Search of Redemption
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Life After Murder: Five Men in Search of Redemption

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  176 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Once a murderer, always a murderer? Or can a murderer be redeemed? Who do they really become after they have served decades in prison? What does it take for a killer to be accepted back into society? What is the chance that he will kill again?Award-winning journalist Nancy Mullane found herself facing these questions when she accepted an assignment to report on the explodi...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published June 26th 2012 by PublicAffairs (first published June 22nd 2012)
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Probably you are having a better day than Don Cronk, Ed Ramirez, Rich Rael, Phillip Seiler, or Jesse Reed did for many years. And almost certainly you are having a better day than the people who died as a result of their actions. Don Cronk, Phillip Seiler, and Jesse Reed each shot and killed a man, making it very definitely homicide. Rich Rael was involved, after consuming much alcohol, in a fight in which a companion had already knifed two guys; Rael gave one of them a kick in the head after h

Nancy Mullane has provided a genuine look into the lives of men who have been released from prisons and their navigations through the world to which they have returned. The humanity through which these men have told their stories, their disappointments, their fears, their struggles to regain their lives and most important their remorse for crimes they committed, is a compelling read. Nancy Mullane has deftly and compassionately given us a window into the lives of ex-offenders and the opportunity...more
Life After Murder is a fascinating and important evaluation of the system by which murderers are paroled (or, as is usually the case, not paroled) in California. Presented through the stories of five men convicted of murderer who each served decades in San Quentin, Mullane's history of the parole system and its politicization is fascinating -- and a pretty quick read This book should be required reading for people who argue for locking folks up and throwing away the key. Without preaching, it pr...more
The author, a journalist, interviews and follows the stories of 5 lifers from San Quentin prison outside of San Francisco, learning about the murders they committed, their history, circumstances, and how they turn their lives around, hoping to be paroled, by staying clean in prison, taking classes and therapy, and even becoming counselors themselves. No matter how much they've changed and regretted what happened, (usually horrid moments of often drug induced actions that go wrong so quickly), ev...more
I'd like to give this book 3 1/2 stars. It was interesting, my son gave me the book for Mother's Day along with a collection of Burt's Bee's products. He said he couldn't just give me a book about murder for Mother's Day.
One quote from the book that's really stuck with me is from page 23. "You know, addiction and alcoholism are the root cause of all crimes in some fashion. Dealing it, selling it, robbing and burglarizing to get money to buy it. When people are under the influence, they do crazy...more
An incredible piece of work. Mullane breaks down the California penal system (or, at least, the small segment that she's looking at) in an accessible way: I'm not usually any good with legal jargon, but I followed everything throughout this book. While I'm sure there was some bias (Mullane admits to the subjects of her study becoming friends over time), none of it felt too overt or obstructive. I actually got to meet the author, very briefly, at an NCIBA gathering last spring and she expressed a...more
May 04, 2013 Shawna added it
Interesting read. Gotta wonder why a legislature thought it was a good idea to give final parole approval to a state governor. It stands to reason that a governor has absolutely no will to grant parole to people--give them a second chance, if any parolee EVER commits another crime the governor is going to be bludgeoned with that fact in the next election. So this creates a situation where the vast majority of inmates recommended for parole are going to have that decision reversed.

It is a stark...more
Nancy Mullane produces stories for my favorite radio show, This American Life, and it is in that show's engaging, in-depth style that her book on reformed murderers reads. Mullane spends four years with five long-incarcerated parolees and fleshes out the true meaning of redemption. Mullane does a fantastic job of allowing the men to tell their stories, in their own voices, while at the same time educating the reader on the implications of current policy. The men of this book have committed the u...more
Nora Strang
First learned about this book after hearing the author's interviews/stories on This American Life. Interesting to hear the individual's voices on the radio segment, then read more about them and their lives in the book. Author does a great job of humanizing, w/out glorifying the men for the strides they've made in their lives post-conviction, or ever soliciting pity for them. They are an invisible population. Also appreciated the perspective and time she gave to the women in the men's lives - wh...more
This is an important book although after volunteering in minimum and medium security prisons for the last 10 years, there wasn't much that was news to me. Nancy Mullane uses extensive interviews with lifers who have been paroled along with facts and figures to present a picture of who these men are and how they cope after being released from prison. If you are someone who believes someone who commits a murder should be locked up for the rest of their natural life, this is a must read for you. I...more
Ann Hartman
Definitely made me rethink the way we sentence criminals.
I'm trying to be pickier about my rankings, so I would have given this 4.5 stars. It's a really fascinating look at lives that we never, ever see. Well worth the time. I enjoyed the story on This American Life; the book was a much richer experience. I do wish she had talked about some of the race and class issues, though--it's kind of hard to write about the criminal justice system without delving into them, and they come up peripherally, but more would have been welcome.
Ann Rothschild

I heard the author on our local NPR program and bought the book to know the whole story. This book gave me a view of the men in prison, their families and the prison system in a personal but not "preachy" way. The author entered this experience with no agenda. The stories she heard and the circumstances she experienced informed the point of view of the book. It is well written and well worth reading.
Highly recommend this book! Really explores reality of prison system and the realities of the lives of five men who spent most of their lives behind bars. It will challenge the way you think about murderers, redemption, and incarceration.I felt really fortunate that on a trip to Alcatraz, I got to hear the author speak along with several of the men profiled in the book. Go read this!
Sue Willey
A really, really interesting book about incarceration. It follows men convicted of murder (true stories; this is nonfiction) in California and makes clear the randomness of who is convicted, who receives parole, how few supports we have for these people, some of whom could become productive members of our community. Definitely food for thought and a good conversation!
What an amazing piece of journalism. I've been interested in prison issues for many years, but had never fully understood the impact of indeterminate sentencing before reading Nancy Mullane's wonderfully told story of the lives of 5 California lifers and their journey to parole and beyond. Highly recommended.
This book was just ok. Tedious and redundant at times, yet interesting and thought-provoking at other parts. It definitely gives you a different perspective on crime and punishment. I had a hard time feeling bad for these criminals when the victims' families are sentenced to a life sentence b/c of their actions..
Jennifer Pratt
If the writer spent less time writing about her career and her bizarre nearly pathological ignorance of the prison and legal system (seriously, don't journalists do research?) and actually focused on the men, this book may have had a chance. But she didn't so it didn't and there you are.

This book really made me think. It even prompted a heated debate between my husband and me. I think it would be great for a book club. I had a very difficult time putting it down and finished it in one day. I've thought about the five life stories of these men all day. Highly recommended!
I really liked this book. I feel inspired to learn more about the rehabilitation programs offered in prisons across the country. These people can be rehabilitated, but they must have programs to help them. Alright, I'm ranting. Nancy Mullane opened my eyes wide to this fascinating subject.
 EmmaLee Pryor
This was super interesting to read. This is about California's punishment system for murderers. I would think that with all the very smart people in the world, that some of the problems she identifies would be easily solved.
Suzie Fabianovicz Teichert
This book challenged my beliefs on what a murder is and how they should be punished. I'm not a reformed Capital Punishment supporter, but I'm open to the possibility that some can be reformed.
Al Menaster
Excellent book. Follows 5 inmates serving life sentences for murder. Follows their efforts after 20 years plus to get paroled. Heart-renching personal stories.
Learned a lot about prison and parole in California. Very interesting readable book told through stories of five lifers who are released from San Quentin.
Regan Burford
Such an incredible insight into the world of those who have taken lives and have paid a debt to society. Getting out is oftentimes harder than living in...
Recommended by the commission of corrections. Compelling look at a handful (of the handful) of lifers who received parole in California.
David Horney
fascinating, riveting, and utterly compelling. i don't think it's really complete without the input of the victims/families left behind.
Interesting...a subject I had not thought about..And should be thought about more as we have sooo many prisoners in this country..
It is a book that needed to be written. I learned a lot about prison, the parole process, and the capriciousness of release.
This book may change how you look at someone who commits a terrible crime. It definitely gives you something to think about.
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