The Sentence

The Sentence


The one decision you can’t take back

Prosecutor, Justine Boucher has only asked for the death penalty once, in a brutal murder case.

In doing so, she put her own life on the line. Because, if the convicted are later found innocent, the lawyer who requested the execution will be sentenced to death.

Justine had no doubt that the man she sent to the chair was guilty.

Until now.

Presented with evidence that could prove his innocence, Justine must find out the truth before anyone else does.

Her life depends on it.

Our Review

Capital punishment is a divisive subject and one which I find absolutely fascinating so it was a given that I was going to request the advanced proof copy of The Sentence. 

The Sentence begins with death row inmate #39384 spending the last few hours of his life thinking about the events that lead to him being on death row 

"Someday, I'll meet you again, my darling Emily, with those eyes of hers that see all the way to the bottom of your soul, that see the lies and the truth.. My little Jake - although by then he;ll be a grown man instead of a six-year-old. Maybe a college graduate, maybe married, maybe a rock star or a writer. Who knows where his life will take him? None of us can ever know that? But I sure as shit hope he ends up better off than his old man." 

Justine Boucher is a lawyer trying to decide whether to ask for the death penalty in a murder case, a case where it is clear the defendent is guilty. She knows whatever decision she makes someone will be upset by it. 

"They'll hate me. Well half of them will hate me. But a woman can survive hatred. Hatred didn't kill you. Hatred isn't on the same plane as a lethal cocktail working it's way through your veins or two thousand volts of electricity stopping your heart. Or, maybe worse than that, a lifelong shadow of guilt." 

Christina Dalcher is excellent at creating books that make you think and The Sentence is no exception to this rule. I don't believe in an eye for an eye, and I am firmly against the use of capital punishment...but still there is the lingering doubt. If a member of my family was murdered, my child for example, would I want to see their murderer dead? Almost certainly, but I studied this topic at university and I know that the system doesn't always get it right.I saw a quote once, in a capital punishment display in an American prison, which read something along the lines of A man is better than the worse thing he has done in his life. 

"I expect its mainly ignorance of some key facts that keep them sticking to their opinions like glue. They don't know how often mistakes are made - an average of four death row inmates are exonorated every year. They don't realise executions have shit to do with lowering homicide rates. And as much as they yell about the expense of keeping every first-degree murderer in prison for life, they don't have a clue that a death penalty case in Texas costs over two million dollars - three times what it would cost to put someone in a single cell for fourty years so they want to see a man in a chair. Or a man on a gurney. Or a man in a gas chamber. It's all about the emotion." 

In the reality of The Sentence the Remedies Act was introduced as a way to make everyone happy, a way to keep the death penalty whilst ensuring nobody would ever ask for it. If the death penalty is asked for and the person is later proven innocent then the person who called for the death penalty can be put to death. 

I love that The Sentence highlights the very real flaws in the capital punishment system. For example, the fact that woman are higlhly unlikely to be put to death, whereas black man are the most likely group to be put to death. 

"I'll tell you when it comes to firing up the execution engine, Texas wins every time. And there are other ways you can be unlucky. You can be in the South instead of the Northeast. You can be black instead of a woman.

But there are ways you can be lucky. You can be one of the almost two hundred people who got released from death row because - get this - they were innocent all along. That's about four every year since the early seventies. Sometimes it's because a witness lies. Sometimes the witness ID's the wrong guy. Sometimes the public defender ends up being fresh out of a fifth rate law school, wet behind the ears and bearly more literate than the person he's supposed to be defending. There's also a hell of a lot of what's called official misconduct, which I guess means nothing more or less than bad cops doing bad things for bad reasons."

We know from the beginning that Justine doesn't believe in the death penalty, so why did she call for it in one case...and what will she do when she learns she may have got it wrong? 

Stupendous book.

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 5/5

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