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A Friend of a Lifer in Louisiana

I just finished reading your new book, “Life After Murder” and had a hard time putting in down. You did a great job of making these men and their situations come to life. This is information that most people just don’t know or understand. People are afraid of what they don’t know anything about.
I would encourage everyone to read this book. It will open their eyes. You will learn something, no matter who you are. I found out about your book from a lifer friend of ours in prison in Louisiana. He heard you on NPR and ask me to get the info on your statistics. When I went to the NPR website and read about your book, I knew I had to get a copy. I read it right away and am so glad I did.
My only wish now is that this book would be published in paperback. I’m sure there are thousands of lifers nationwide who would love to read this book, but, with prison rules, only paperback books can be accepted in most prisons.
Thank you for all your hard work putting this book together.
— Pat Vichas

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Book Group

Congratulations on your book. Very exciting to hear the buzz about you and all the hard work you put in the last 3 years. I heard your interview on NPR and was so impressed with your poise, eloquence and knowledge on the topic.
My friends had the privelege of attending one of your book launches in the neighborhood and made me intrigued by your book. I have been in a bookclub for 13 years. Last month it was my turn to suggest books for our next read. Your book, Life After Murder, one of our choices and was selected as our next read. It is a very different kind of read for our group.
We would love to invite to be a guest speaker at our next book club meeting at the end of August. The women in the group are dynamic and very well spoken. One is a retired news anchor, lawyer, headhunter, moms, real estate agent, publishing and retail experience.
– Lilly

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Phenomenal

What a phenomenal book!!
My father was GM of the Associated Press, and after he retired, it frustrated him to read news reports and radio questions which were not toughly phrased and intensely pursued. He would have loved your interviews.
In trial work I found salvation in putting people under oath and using the court rules to force people to tell not just a piece of the story but all I wanted to hear. That experience made your work all that more impressive to me.
You have deftly followed your natural reporter instincts to ask questions well and with follow-up.
And your judgment was terrific, never taking over the story, always keeping the five in it.
Well done, well done!! The first of many, I hope.
Robert Starzel

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A Visit to San Quentin

The story on NPR over the weekend about your book caught our attention! It is very rare to hear of someone with the courage to step into the room and wait for the “murders” to come and converse. In 2010 I had a special opportunity to take 68 people, mostly high school and college age young people, into San Quentin for 2 days. We did presentations for nearly 500 of the residents there.
In the past 16 years we have done over 350 presentations in 100+ churches, 57 correctional facilities and dozens of rehab centers across the country. San Quentin was perhaps the most notorious place we visited, probably with the audience with the longest sentences. It was also the most encouraging, articulate, and inspiring audience we had ever experienced. The facility requested the opportunity for SQTV to video our second presentation to show later on death row. The Hollywood trained video (inmate) crew was impressive, but even more impactful was the way they interviewed our young people afterwards, pointedly asking for their comments for the death row inmates. Under the lights, with a camera on, the inmates doing the video held a mic to my 18 years old son and asked, “What would you like to say to the men on death row?” Talk about a life-impacting experience, especially after having spent 2 days surrounded by, even working alongside, “murderers” who were some of the most inspiring people we had met in our travels.
We do a Christian youth ministry that started as a music ministry in churches and has evolved into a leadership development program seeking to go into the most challenging situations we can find. We do this to share a message of hope, but it goes way beyond that for developing and stretching our young people. In addition to lots of prison work, which breaks down stereotypes and challenges everyone’s thinking about who other people are (and who we are), we have interacted with Mexican Mafia prison gang leaders, had tours of the gang oriented neighborhoods of Chicago led by former gang members, interacted with 4 & 5 star generals of the Bloods and Crips, and become very comfortable strolling the halls of Rikers Island(New York City’s jail) and interacting with the wardens there.
I also own a medium size trucking company and have served for many years on a community bank board. It is very difficult to even mention what I do on the weekends with young people. The misconceptions and fears among the public and business leaders (and yes, even among Christians) is often surprising. The goal of our ministry is to develop understanding of people who, even if their life situations, choices, etc. are very different from ours.
I wanted to express my appreciation for your work. Best wishes with your book!
Jeff Bohn, Executive Director
Shining Light Ministries

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A Letter from a Mother

Dear Ms. Mullane,
I flipped on NPR radio on my way home from work today, which I often do, and was treated to a piece you did regarding San Quentin murder inmates. Please allow me to admit, firstly, that I have not yet read your book and intend to do so. The piece today was about Mr. Cronk. When I tuned in, he was waiting to hear back about his parole, indicating that he had been sick to his stomach, extremely nervous …needed some time alone when he learned that his parole had been denied. He also indicated that he could not change what had happened, but it was after all, a long 27 years ago. He made reference to paying for what he had done during that time.
Again, I apologize that I did hear the entire piece, but I see on your web site that Mr. Cronk had been convicted of first degree murder. He also mentioned during the piece that he is a person of faith and believed God to be in charge of the situation … or words to that effect.
My son Tony, you can read his entire story at anthonyhollyfoundation.org, was murdered when he was 24 years old ….. February 19, 2007.
I have been sick to my stomach every day since and will be for the rest of my life. I feel nervous, anxious and often need some alone, time to cry, grieve, pray for strength, and wonder why a person of such evil, my son’s murderer, could have changed all of our lives in a second. There are no words to describe the loss of one’s child, for my son Jim to describe the loss of his only brother and best friend, for Tony’s girlfriend to describe the life that never was.
I again apologize ahead of time if you have already written this book: Life After Murder, The Victims. If you have not already done so, I’m in. You can interview me and my husband, my son Jim, all of the people who love and miss Tony with every breath we take. We are the forgotten ones.
Respectfully,
Nancy Bonner
Phoenix, AZ
Mother to Anthony “Tony” Holly, murdered 2/19/2007

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Racial Component

I heard you interviewed on NPR this morning. In the event you have further interest in this subject, I know two murderers, personally, who have been out of North Carolina’s Central Prison from life sentences for four and five years.
One, a former Black Panther, killed a white policeman, and the other, also black, also killed a white man. Part of my interest in them is the racial component, that their behavior in prison overrode the general racism attributed to that state.
I haven’t read your book, of course, I just learned of it, but I know that people can redeem themselves and applaud your effort to make that understood.
Chuck Galle
Author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter
http://chuckgalle.com

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Married to a ‘Lifer’

I wanted to thank you for this book. I am married to a lifer….He took a plea to 2nd degree murder and is still going to the (parole) board and being denied 30 years later.
His emotions and our story mirrors the men in your book. I am thankful that you are putting the facts in front on the public. I have spent years trying to explain the process to people who just can’t understand how flawed this system is and no matter how changed a person is, no matter how hard they have worked, how many classes they have taken, how many times they have facilitated AA, NA, Anger Management, Epicitus Club, Rock Program, etc.,etc., all those chronos (positive reports)….for years and years.
I find it especially amazing that the guys share so many emotions, things my husband has told me, ie., being afraid that his family will think he is still doing wrong and that’s the reason he can’t get out. The adaptability, the sensitivity, the regret.
So, the fight goes on. Hope springs eternal. Swallow the disappointment and keep on keeping on.
Again, thank you for your work and your voice.
Donna and Sergio Aceves
Vacaville, California

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People on the ‘Outside’ Benefit

Fabulous book launch last week…we are really proud of you! Vanessa and I will share the one book we got and thank you for your generosity as we could not afford to buy a copy at this time. We are trying to launch and secure funding for Life Support Alliance and the California Lifer Newsletter.
I was so impressed by all who attended the book launch, and the Lifers — ex-Lifers — that is and their ability to articulate with such eloquence. I am struck by how so many people on the ‘outside’ could benefit from such trials and challenges of our inner souls.
Impressive…and a very moving evening well-orchestrated.
Great photography. I love the large images.
Enjoyed especially speaking with Don Cronk. He and my husband were good friends at San Quentin. Thank you and congratulations on your work coming to fruition!
Gail Brown – Life Support Alliance

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Correspondence with Prisoners

While perusing this morning’s “San Francisco Chronicle” I happened to come across your article, and I’m so glad that you had the inspiration, insight and courage to write this book.

I had not heard of it before, and I’m very sorry that I missed the mid-June book readings, but would love to share with you my experiences corresponding to men and women incarcerated in various prisons throughout the US — currently, three men in high max security at Pelican Bay State Prison; a man at a Virginia State prison, and a woman at the Trenton, NJ State Prison….all charged with/sentenced for life imprisonment… for murder.

Correspondence started six years ago after I had purchased their respective art works through THE FORTUNE SOCIETY in NYC. At that time (2005) THE FORTUNE SOCIETY had a special program and venue to exhibit both physically and on-line, prison artwork for sale at an auction site. http://fortunesociety.org

The incredible quality, skillful and often tender nature of these prison artworks blew me away! As an artist myself, I wanted to communicate with these men and women…first and foremost to encourage, uplift, inspire, share artwork, and ultimately form a very unique and special friendship with each one of them. The amount of letters and artwork I’ve received from them over the years can fill tomes!

It wasn’t until most recently that after six years of writing that I took the plunge and directly asked each of them why they were in prison (i.e., what they were charged with.) There is no doubt in my mind that people who have committed murder in the past can become transformed, matured, compassionate, of good service to others, and lead wonderful, even exemplary lives if and when paroled.

My husband and I are currently in the process of sending in completed PBSP CDC visitation forms for review and approval so we can visit three men at the PELICAN BAY STATE PRISON in Crescent City.

I will go to BOOK PASSAGE and purchase your book. Again, thank you for exploring this (much charged) subject.
Sincerely,
Leslie

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The book!!! A Teen Review

I finished your book a few days ago and thought I’d let you know how much I loved it! It was really gripping and well written, and the subject was super interesting.
My dad’s reading it next!
–Izzy

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FEATURED REVIEWS


Life After Murder challenges us to do the unthinkable in the era of mass incarceration – view those accused of heinous crimes as worthy of our care, compassion and concern. Nancy Mullane, a white woman who once was just as ignorant about the real world of crime and punishment as the typical television viewer, takes us on a remarkable journey behind bars and introduces us to five unforgettable men who are struggling to transform their lives. Through their stories we are reminded of the power and possibility of redemption, as well the nearly unforgiveable crime our nation has committed: treating some human beings as disposable.

–MICHELLE ALEXANDER

 

“Life After Murder is a gripping behind the scenes look at men who have committed heinous crimes yet still challenge our humanity by asking us to truly consider the meaning of redemption. This is journalism at its finest and a must-read for anyone interested in the realities of our prison system.”

–TOM AMMIANO, California Assembly Member

 

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