Nancy Mullane, an independent producer/reporter for public radio, on her revealing book about the politics of parole in California; plus Don Cronk, a former inmate who is profiled in her book, and former inmate John Dannenberg, whose brilliant legal work set the stage for many lifer releases.Mullane’s important book is Life After Murder: Five Men in Search of Redemption and is the companion to her compelling radio reports, which aired on NPR’s Weekend Edition. Mullane explores the politics of incarceration, and the fear of a “Willie Horton” case that drove the courts and elected leaders to let lifers languish, often in direct violation of the law. Detailing the cases of 5 men sentenced for murder to life with the possibility of parole, she illustrates how the system is supposed to work, and how, until recently, a lifer was more likely to die in prison than to be paroled. Our guest Don Cronk is one of the 5 men Mullane writes about, and we hear how he was found “suitable” for parole, only to learn 150 days later that Gov. Schwarzenegger had rejected the board’s finding. John Dannenberg, who trained himself in the law at San Quentin, gives us a summary of the court cases–including his own–that culminated in the release of many lifers, including Cronk.
Visit Mullane’s website here, and be sure to listen to the archived radio reports that recount some of the stories in the book click on the “Media” tab.