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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

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  280 Ratings  ·  49 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
Hardcover, 1st edition, 368 pages
Published June 26th 2012 by Public Affairs (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

Sheryl Sorrentino
I began reading this book with trepidation. I hated “digesting” the stupid, senseless acts that had landed these five guys in prison for life with possibility of parole. Most were murders committed during the course of another crime (e.g., a home invasion robbery, fleeing from a convenience store robbery, etc.). One was particularly brutal (kicking a guy in the head who’d already been robbed and was lying on the ground bleeding). In only one of the five cases could I sort of understand the guy’s ...more
Pelie Woo
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book reveals a side of prisoners (lifers) that society generally misunderstands or never bother to understand. Which is not all murderers are psychopathic, but are people who make mistakes, make wrong decisions that they might not meant in a spur of the moment.
Well, it happened to them, and we could all learn from their stories and how they became a better person during their incarceration. There are many morals that one can catch from the book, and for me my biggest takeaway is not to look
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
very interesting in the beginning. Got bored of it very quickly. didn't finish.
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
"Life After Murder: Five Men in Search of Redemption" is the true account of journalist Nancy Mullane's four year journey through the California justice system and it's treatment of society's "most dangerous" criminals- those who have been arrested for murder.

Due to various changes to California legislation (which the author does a great job of archiving and explaining), those who are convicted of homicide face a sentence ending with the word "to life", which basically means an indeterminate se
Diane Yannick
May 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nancy Mullane, the fine journalist who researched and wrote this book, also provides thought provoking stories for NPR's "This American Life." I found this book to be fascinating study of 5 lifers from San Quentin. The author approached the story without an agenda, just a desire to tell the men's stories and present relevant facts. I have long wondered about the effectiveness of our penal systems and if rehabilitation is truly possible. Nancy upped the ante by giving us five inmates who have co ...more
marcus miller
Mullane explores the California prison system by looking at the lives of five men, all convicted of murder. During the course of the time Mullane begins her project, the five men are paroled or released through actions of the judicial system. The book is one part, what happens to the men in prison, the second is, what happens once the men are released. Through these stories, Mullane also takes aim at California laws, which in an effort to get tough on crime basically added the words "to life" af ...more
Dec 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Renee Reynolds
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If, like me, you are seeking to understand both the causes and cure of mass incarceration, this book will accomplish exactly what the investigative-reporter-turned-author intended: to give us an inside look at modern American prisons and to humanize those hidden behind bars, the unseen and uncounted of our population. Nancy Mullane self admittedly starts her journalistic journey into the San Quentin underworld with foreboding and fear; her readers get to travel with her as she navigates the hidd ...more
Caitlyn B.
Nov 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unbelievably moving

I want to do art therapy with prisoners. I am currently an art therapy grad student. This book was absolutely wonderful. So touching and so motivating. This book perfectly illustrates WHY we need reform programs and rehab options and job opportunities. It's also sad at the same time, so hear about the laws that don't work in favor for the prisoners now and to know they're still in effect in 2016 for the most part. I am hoping to change that. I want nothing more than to help p
Jul 15, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Is there life after murder? Obviously not for the victim, but what about the man who committed the crime? Is there redemption? Rehabilitation? Nancy Mullane takes a look at five convicted murderers serving time in San Quentin and asks if it is possible for these men to find salvation. Through interviews with the five men and their families, she finds feelings of regret, true remorse and guilt. With the possibility of parole, each one has the chance to find a new direction.

For those interested in
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Apr 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nora Strang
Aug 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very important book to read to get a different perspective. By no means do these men feel as if they are victims of a system. They owned up to their horrible crimes and have begun the journey of forgiving themselves and growing from their mistakes.

In the social work field we are always told to watch out for our biases. This book opens up the world of murderers and gives everyone a new perspective. I found myself hoping that these men strive and succeed after being in jail for 20+ year
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.
Sep 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 05, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book- although not as much as I thought I would. It was very interesting to hear the men's different stories. I was hoping for one person who wasn't so sympathetic, but maybe that's the point. The author also goes in detail regarding the parole process. I think the struggle I had was with the flow. I found it hard to keep the different men and their stories clear in my head. Overall, I liked it more than disliked, so I think 3 stars is appropriate.
Sue Willey
Jul 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
May 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Sep 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first book I've read that showcased views more liberal than my own. What a feat! I struggled with this material at times and would have liked to see more data points and anecdotes from victims. I converged on 4 stars given that it sparked an interesting internal and external dialogue about values, repercussions, our legal system, and morality. Recommend but brace yourself :)
Jan 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
As interesting as the stories of each man was I found it really hard to remember who was who throughout the book. There was also a lot of legal facts that were confusing at times to understand. That being said Nancy did a good job at making the reader really invest in each of the men. I now have a different perspective of who a murderer is.
Oct 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 05, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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..
Aug 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before I read this book I thought of murderers as people who deserved life in prison without parole. After reading the individual stories I can understand how some people can serve their time and become productive members of society.
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