Without Mercy

Without Mercy

The Stunning True Story of Race, Crime, and Corruption in the Deep South

Book - 2014
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"Without Mercy reads like a John Grisham thriller." ---David R. Dow, author of The Autobiography of an Execution On December 9, 1938, the state of Georgia executed six black men in eighty-one minutes in Tattnall Prison's electric chair. The executions were a record for the state that still stands today. The new prison, built with funds from FDR's New Deal, as well as the fact that the men were tried and executed rather than lynched were thought to be a sign of progress. They were anything but. While those men were arrested, convicted, sentenced, and executed in as little as six weeks---E. D. Rivers, the governor of the state, oversaw a pardon racket for white killers and criminals, allowed the Ku Klux Klan to infiltrate his administration, and bankrupted the state. Race and wealth were all that determined whether or not a man lived or died. There was no progress. There was no justice. David Beasley's Without Mercy is the harrowing true story of the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the violent death throes of the Klan, but most of all it is the story of the stunning injustice of these executions and how they have seared distrust of the legal system into the consciousness of the Deep South, and it is a story that will forever be a testament to the death penalty's appalling inequality that continues to plague our nation.
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2014
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781250014665
Branch Call Number: 364.6608 BEASLEY
Characteristics: x, 276 pages, 8 unnumbered pages : illustrations ; 22 cm


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Mar 16, 2016

Author David Beasley paints an incredible picture of the Georgia justice system during the late 30s and early 40s when the state was run by an ardent New Dealer and Ku Klux Klansman. While today a death row inmate can spend decades exhausting the appeals process; back then, a person could be charged, convicted and executed in less than two months. And with the power to pardon individuals, corrupt governor E.D. Rivers set free hundreds of criminals who had all he right connections. Those who didn't faced the electric chair, which on one day was used to execute six people in the less than two hours. As a proponent of the death penalty, this book really shows how far we have evolved in the last eighty years. But it also is a reminder that mistakes can be made. As such, a death sentence should only be carried out based on a conviction from physical DNA evidence and after a rigorous appeals process. Without Mercy also makes a strong case that no one individual should have the power to pardon someone. As was the case in this book and during Bill Clinton's last days in 2001, it is an invitation for mass corruption. A truly great read!

Apr 14, 2015

A quick read the shines light on historic injustices in the justice system, government corruption, and the KKK In Georgia. The book basically goes through different crimes and different results from the justice system based on race (as well as corruption and the KKK's profit motive). It seems like we have improved based only on how bad it was in the past. A side note is that I now realize how bad Wikipedia really is. I went to look up Georgia Governor E.D. Rivers and there is no mention of his relationship with the KKK. I always thought Wikipedia was at least directionally correct, but this glaring absence illuminates that the internet doesn't detail everything (even significant issues).


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