TO DIE IS NOT ENOUGH: A True Account of Murder and Retribution by Donald Delano Wright

TO DIE IS NOT ENOUGH: A True Account of Murder and Retribution

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On Christmas Eve, 1959, Don White, a young, mentally disturbed black man, brutally murdered two people, a white great-grandmother and a black longshoreman. At trial his lawyers introduced evidence of an intolerable childhood spent with an unbalanced foster mother and in institutions, attempting to prove diminished responsibility for his acts. The jury rejected this defense and sentenced White to death. Then began a lengthy legal battle to have the conviction reversed. The author's focus is not so much on the legal strategies that ultimately saved the condemned man from hanging, but rather on White's metamorphosis from uncontrollable borderline psychotic to penitent potential contributor to society. There is a compelling authenticity to this version of the old tale of the prisoner who finds a new and meaningful life while waiting on Death Row. One might wish for less cursory treatment of the legal issues, but the objective journalistic style successfully skirts bathos to make the story of White's redemption a persuasive brief against the death penalty. The Death Row scenes, particularly the last hours of another condemned man, have a chilling immediacy that might give pause to any ardent proponent of capital punishment.

Pub Date: March 29th, 1974
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin