Live

Watch CBSN Live

Turow's Take On Death Penalty

The death penalty debate has lured lawyer-author Scott Turow away from his page-turning legal thrillers and back into the non-fiction genre.

"Ultimate Punishment" is the second non-fiction work from the author best known for such novels as "Presumed Innocent," "Pleading Guilty" and "Reversible Errors." In it, he reflects on dealing with the death penalty, and how he changed his stance from pro- to anti-capital punishment.

He analyzes the potent reasons both for and against it, including the role of victims' survivors stories. In the end, he concludes that the issue asks too much of the law.

"After two years looking at the system," Turow told The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler, "I realized I was asking myself the wrong question. I think most Americans ask themselves the wrong question which is, in certain horrible cases, do I believe that person should die or that it's just that others decide that she or he should die?

"I don't think that's the right question. I think the right question is, can we design a system that will reach the right cases without also sweeping in wrong cases? And I think, in point of fact, we can't."

Turow, who continues to practice law, has handled death-penalty cases as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. In the latter case, he spent 10 years on two different capital cases.

He recently served two years as one of 14 members of Illinois Gov. George Ryan's Commission on Capital Punishment.

The group was formed to examine why Illinois was sending so many wrongly convicted men to death row. This eventually led to the commutation of 167 Illinois death row inmates' sentences on Gov. Ryan's last day in office.

Turow's previous non-fiction work is the classic "One L," which details his first year at law school.

View CBS News In