Journalist gets up close and personal with killer-quintet

June 15, 2012

Radio journalist Nancy Mullane has gone behind the walls of California’s infamous San Quentin state prison to chronicle how life unfolds for five inmates convicted of murder.

Andreessen Horowitz Partner Margit Wennmachers introducing Don Cronk, Jesse Reed, Ed Ramirez and author Nancy Mullane

The five-year investigative effort by the freelance reporter and producer who does a lot of work for NPR is now chronicled in her book,  Life After Murder. 

Mullane follows Don Cronk, Ed Ramirez, Rich Rael, Phillip Seiler and Jesse Reed as they work through the complicated system of obtaining parole, and tracks their travails once outside. Each of the men have been convicted of murder.

Mullane said she received unprecendented cooperation from the prison staff and the quintet of convicted killers  as they sought parole for good behavior decades after their crime.

The book sees life from the perspective of convicted killers but Mullane did not contact people close to the victims, a deliberate decision on her part.

“I really wanted to focus on who the people who commit murder have  become, and that’s why I didn’t go the victim’s side,” she added. “From 2000 to 2009,  57,000 people who were convicted for first and second degree were released from prison nationwide. We don’t know who they are.”

The San Francisco resident kicked off her book tour and introduced the five subjects at a pre-launch event at her friend and Andreessen Horowitz partner Margit Wennmachers’ house recently. The event was attended by a lot of employees within the prison system, who noted Mullane’s  tenacity and persistance in seeking access to both the prison and the prisoners. 

The book, which will be released on June 26 by Public Affairs, has been submitted by the publisher for a Pulitzer prize. Now it remains to be seen if the Pulitzer board will be as impressed by her work as the California  prison system officials are.

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