The United States just hit a milestone: the prison population passed the two million mark. A quarter of the world's inmates live in American jails. Crime rates may be going down, but the corrections industry is booming. In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge, a look at crime and punishment. A maverick criminologist explains how violent criminals are made, why innocent men do time, and film-maker Errol Morris profiles the man behind the electric chair.
Documentary film-maker Errol Morris talks about the subject of his latest film: "Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred Leuchter, Jr." Leuchter builds and repairs execution devices, like electric chairs and lethal injection machines. He's also a star Holocaust denier. Morris tells Steve Paulson that his film explores the nature of evil, as well as the bizarre mind of Fred Leuchter. Morris' films include "The Thin Blue Line" and "Fast, Cheap and Out of Control."SEGMENT 2:
Comic mystery writer Sparkle Hayter used to keep scrap books of weird crime stories. She shares some of her favorites with Judith Strasser. Also, Richard Rhodes is the author of "Why They Kill," which talks about the life and work of criminologist Lonnie Athens. A survivor of abuse, Athens has a theory about why some people become violent criminals. He says they all share a four step pattern of social experiences and choose to act violently.SEGMENT 3:
Peter Neufeld is one of the founders of The Innocence Project which uses DNA testing to free innocent people wrongly convicted of murder. He's the author, with journalist Jim Dwyer, and Barry Scheck, of "Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution, and other Dispatches from the Wrongfully Convicted." Neufeld and Dwyer describe some of their case studies to Jim Fleming. Also, Ken Lamberton is a prisoner at a minimum security facility outside Tucson. He tells Steve Paulson that incarceration has made him a naturalist, and explains what he can observe. His book is "Wilderness and Razor Wire: A Naturalist's Observations from Prison."Cassette copies are available at 1-800-747-7444. Ask for program number 00-04-09-B.
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