Sunday, August 25, 2013

Life After Death Review

Life After Death


I’d like to see the 2 documentaries and given how overbooked I am, perhaps I should have just seen them and not read this book, but I’m glad I read it. I plan to see the films too, and take a look at the several websites listed in the book. 

I knew life was unfair by the time I was 7, and never screamed out the commonly used line by children that (something) isn’t fair, but some things are utterly ridiculous. What happened to the author is one of those things.

This account was more horrifying that most fictional horror tales. The more prison memoirs I read, the more I’m appalled. I’ve been against the death penalty since I was a kid, and the more I know, the more I’m convinced that even incarceration should be just for those truly dangerous to society (many penitentiary workers would qualify!) and then they’d better make sure those imprisoned really are guilty of the crimes of which they’re convicted. 

I’m wondering if the real killer(s) have been brought to justice, or if they’re known. One man was briefly mentioned in this account but I don’t know if there has been any follow up with that. 

Our “justice” system needs an overhaul, at least in many places. Our punishment system is abysmal and there really is no excuse. 

I appreciate that this book is an autobiography and covers his early life and not just the period starting with his arrest and incarceration.

I don't relate to the spiritual practices so important to the author and I'm uncomfortable with some of his judgmental attitudes, and derogatory things he writes about some people, some who I can see deserve it but many who I don’t think do, but his perspective is very interesting, though I don’t think he’s always rigorously honest with himself, including re his “suicide attempt” though I’m glad he survived.

It was an eye opener to read about all described here.

While this book is thought provoking and infuriating, I mostly hope it's a catalyst for change in the "justice" system.

I think this book should be required reading for all who work in the prison system and the court system, all law enforcement officers, all college students who plan to work (even tangentially) in the field, and this would also be a great “scared straight” kind of book for high risk youth and young adults.

Maximum security prison areas in American prisons would be considered by us to be cruel and unusual (and inhumane) punishment if we were to evaluate them in any other country. It’s bad enough that people guilty of their crimes are there. The fact that there are innocent people there, including some on death rows, including some of those executed, should have every reader wanting to lobby for change.

And shame on so many people who are written about in this book.

I wish nothing but the best for Echols and others in similar situations.