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For Educators


Welcome To Hell
Letters and Writings from Death Row
Jan Arriens, ed.; Helen Prejean, fwd.; Clive Stafford Smith, intro.




Northeastern University Press
2004 • 304 pp. 17 illus. 6 x 9"
Criminal Justice / Law / Criminal Behavior

$27.95 Paperback, 978-1-55553-636-7



Now in a new edition, condemned men and women speak for themselves about the reality behind bars on death row.

Consisting of letters and other writings from inmates to members of LifeLines, an organization of pen friends based in the United Kingdom, Welcome to Hell vividly conveys daily life on death row. Ranging from simple descriptions of cockroach races and a typewriter repaired with rubber bands and a toothbrush, to profoundly affecting glimpses into horrific abusive childhoods, to eloquent, emotionally powerful statements about facing execution, these remarkable letters reveal the human side of capital punishment.

The second edition includes new chapters that focus in particular on how inmates, knowing that the only realistic alternative to death is a life sentence without parole, cope with long periods of imprisonment in a hostile system that remorselessly seeks to take their lives. The additional material also gives insight into the ways in which death row prisoners flower as human beings despite their harsh, isolated, and traumatic environment.

As Sister Helen Prejean writes in her foreword, "Take this guided tour through Hell-guided by those who should know: the prisoners themselves. This is a book that speaks from the heart to the heart. Hopes, fears, anguish, desolation, anger -- they're all here. There isn't a page that doesn't make us laugh, cry, or shout. This book is their story -- the story of those cast aside by society. Not human like we are? Come and see for yourself."



Jan Arriens is an activist against the death penalty and founder of LifeLines. Sister Helen Prejean is the author of Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States. Clive Stafford Smith is Director of the Louisiana Crisis Assistance Center in New Orleans.






Fri, 8 Aug 2014 11:56:04 -0500