The Champion

April 2007 , Page 58 

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Book Reviews

By Elizabeth Kelley, William R. Montross Jr.

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Back from the Dead: One Woman’s Search for the Men Who Walked Off America’s Death Row

By Joan M. Cheever
John Wiley & Sons (2006)
Reviewed by Elizabeth Kelley

Every so often, when we finish reading a book, we realize that we have just experienced something truly remarkable and historic. This is how I felt after finishing Back from the Dead: One Woman’s Search for the Men Who Walked Off America’s Death Row by Joan M. Cheever. This is the story of the 587 men and 2 women whose death sentences were commuted when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its 1972 ruling in the landmark case of Furman v. Georgia. (Throughout the book, Cheever refers to these individuals as the Class of ‘72, an ironic conferring of fraternity.) In a 5-4 decision — with nine separate opinions and a total of 243 pages — the Court held that the imposition of the death penalty constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Subsequently, states scrambled to fashion death statutes which passed constitutiona

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