Capital Punishment: A World View

By James Avery Joyce | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
In Place of Fear

"No single criminal can be as powerful for evil, or as unrestrained in its exercise, as an organised nation . . . you cannot mend a person by damaging him."--GEORGE BERNARD SHAW

THIS BOOK BEGAN WITH CHESSMAN'S ASSERTION THAT THE WAITing men on Death Row have not sprung "full blown from Hell." The intervening chapters have sought to expand that view. These were the men who went wrong, somewhere along the line. At the end of his best-seller, Chessman takes us back down that line to the "rebel with a cause," or, in less colorful terms, to the "social deviant."

When all is said and done, here is to be found the primary problem which faces the modern reformer: how to deal with the individual. In order to make any alternative work, the rebel himself must become the center of concern. Remarking that such men "were young once," the demised author of Cell 2455, Death Row analyzes his own case and that of thousands of others who pass through or stay in our jails:

The young are eager and alive. They are idealists, yes, and romantics. They hunger emotionally. They need love. They need to feel wanted; they want to belong. But reality can treat them harshly, cruelly. Fear can enter their lives, a fear that is ugly and unreasonable. They can develop terrible feelings of guilt, of inadequacy, of being unloved, unwanted, rejected, alone. They can feel tyrannized. They can become confused. They can rebel, and their rebellion can assume many shapes.

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