David R. Dow has defended over 100 death row inmates in 20 years.
What does it feel like to know exactly the day and time you’re going to die -- because the state has decided for you? As a death penalty attorney in Texas, the state with the highest death penalty rate in the US, David R. Dow asks himself questions like this every day. In the past 20 years he has defended over 100 death row inmates, many of whom have died -- and most of whom were guilty. But according to an interview with Dow, “They should have been sentenced to life in prison instead of death at the hands of the state.” Dow is the Litigation Director at the Texas Defender Service and the Founder and Co-director of the Texas Innocence Network, an organization in which law students provide pro bono legal services to investigate claims of actual innocence brought by Texas prisoners. He writes on contract law, constitutional law and theory, and death penalty law, and has most recently published a book called The Autobiography of an Execution, partly a memoir and partly about the politics of capital punishment. Dow is a professor at the University of Houston Law Center.
“If you tell me the name of a death row inmate — doesn't matter what state he's in, doesn't matter if I've ever met him before — I'll write his biography for you.”
“People might disagree about whether [a murderer] should have been executed. But I think everybody would agree that the best possible version … would be a story where no murder ever occurs.”
“It's not yet too late [for juvenile delinquents]. There's still time to nudge them, if we think about nudging them rather than just punishing them.”
“For every 15,000 dollars that we spend intervening in the lives of economically and otherwise disadvantaged kids in those earlier chapters, we save 80,000 dollars in crime-related costs down the road.”
“Death penalty lawyers have understood that the earlier you intervene in a case, the greater the likelihood that you're going to save your client's life.”