For 12 years, Robert Blecker, a Harvard trained criminal law professor, wandered inside Lorton Central Prison, without guards, armed only with cigarettes, a tape recorder, and the assurance of leading convicts that “Slim Rob” was “alright.” After thousands of hours kicking back with convicted street criminals, mostly killers, probing their crimes and the meaning of their lives, Robert feels forced to morally refine his own views on the worst of the worst who deserve to die.
Through the voices of his teachers, including Plato and Kant, “Itchy”, Leo, and “Papa Bear”, take a journey through the mind of a famed retributivist who tests legal philosophy against the reality and wisdom of street criminals.
Robert Blecker’s debut Kindle Single “Let the Great Axe Fall” teaches us that justice is richer than the rule of law, that the past counts and we must keep our covenant with the dead — but most of all that the answer to the excruciating question of capital punishment is vastly richer than a simple yes or no.
As a Tufts University undergraduate who knew that Hitler deserved to die, Robert Blecker fled the Philosophy Department chaired by America’s leading death penalty opponent. Scorned by his fellow anti-Vietnam war protesters for supporting capital punishment, he insisted we were killing the wrong people. Tufts produced his three one-act plays and created the Balch Travelling and Playwriting fellowship for him. After college, he taught American Culture and Creative Writing at the University of Vincennes. Harvard Law School awarded his thesis on Game and Sport the Oberman Prize as best of the 1974 graduates. He returned to Harvard for a year as a Fellow in Law and Humanities.
After a brief stint as a Special Prosecutor attacking corrupt NYC cops, lawyers, and judges, Robert became a New York Law School criminal law professor where he co-teaches death penalty law with leading opponents, as well as Constitutional History. His American history play, “Vote NO!”, premiered at the Kennedy Center and travelled to 16 states. Every audience but one — including the ACLU, and cadets at West Point and Annapolis — immediately after performance voted to reject the U.S. Constitution. For 12 years, he wandered freely inside Lorton, the Nation’s only all-Black prison system, interviewing convicted killers, no officers present. He has since documented daily life on death rows and maximum security prisons in seven states. Robert has long been a leading public voice appearing in national and international media and many documentaries urging a morally informed death penalty for those who deserve it. The feature and TV documentary "Robert Blecker Wants Me Dead" (available on Amazon) portrays his unusual relationship on Tennessee’s death row with condemned killer Daryl Holton. Robert is working on his own documentary, "The Death of Punishment." He hopes his stage play "Joseph Warren" will help bring America’s greatest forgotten Founding Father back to life.
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