Ultimate Punishment

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Ultimate Punishment
Author Scott Turow
Country United States
Language English
Genre Autobiography
Publisher Farrar Straus & Giroux
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 164 (paperback)
ISBN 0-374-12873-1 (paperback)
OCLC 52030296
345.73/0773 21
LC Class KF9227.C2 T87 2003
Preceded by 'Reversible Errors'
Followed by 'Ordinary Heroes'

Ultimate Punishment: A Lawyer's Reflections on Dealing with the Death Penalty or simply Ultimate Punishment is a series of autobiographical reflections regarding the death penalty. It is written by Scott Turow and marks his return to non-fiction for the first time since One L in 1977.

Turow bases his opinions on his experiences as a prosecutor and, in his post-prosecutorial years, working on behalf of death-row inmates, as well as his two years on Illinois's Commission on Capital Punishment, charged by the former Gov. George Ryan.

Turow presents both sides of the death penalty debate and seems himself to flip sides depending on the argument.

Turow's reflections include:

  • Thoughts on victims' rights vs. community rights
  • Whether execution is a deterrent
  • The possible execution of an innocent person
  • If not the death penalty, what to do with the worst offenders

He also visits a maximum security prison and meets multiple-murderer Henry Brisbon, who, Turow says, "most closely resembles... Hannibal Lecter".


Ultimate Punishment received the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights 2004 Book award given annually to a novelist who "most faithfully and forcefully reflects Robert Kennedy's purposes - his concern for the poor and the powerless, his struggle for honest and even-handed justice, his conviction that a decent society must assure all young people a fair chance, and his faith that a free democracy can act to remedy disparities of power and opportunity."[1]


  1. ^ . RFKcenter.org http://rfkcenter.org/book-award?lang=en.  Missing or empty |title= (help)