Shipman’s use of reconstructed stories, gleaned from hundreds of newspaper articles, gives readers a deeper understanding of the ways these dailies reported on the trials and imprisonment of women and how these reports reflected the cultural norms of the times. His detailed narratives of the executions give evidence to the development of journalistic styles and techniques, such as the jazz journalism of the 1920s. By examining anecdotes about how the press reports on the death penalty, Shipman seeks to stimulate discussions about this subject that are more human and less abstract.
“The Penalty Is Death” fills a void in the literature on capital punishment that has long been neglected. Anyone interested in media and press performance, capital punishment, or women’s roles in society will find this book of great value.
Marlin Shipman is Professor of Journalism at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.