Right Here, Right Now

Life Stories from America's Death Row

Book Pages: 272 Illustrations: Published: April 2021

Editor: Lynden Harris

Contributor(s): Henderson Hill, Timothy Tyson

Activism, American Studies, Critical Ethnic Studies

Upon receiving his execution date, one of the thousands of men living on death row in the United States had an epiphany: “All there ever is, is this moment. You, me, all of us, right here, right now, this minute, that's love.” Right Here, Right Now collects the powerful, first-person stories of dozens of men on death rows across the country. From childhood experiences living with poverty, hunger, and violence to mental illness and police misconduct to coming to terms with their executions, these men outline their struggle to maintain their connection to society and sustain the humanity that incarceration and its daily insults attempt to extinguish. By offering their hopes, dreams, aspirations, fears, failures, and wounds, the men challenge us to reconsider whether our current justice system offers actual justice or simply perpetuates the social injustices that obscure our shared humanity.


“Everyone must read this book. We cannot measure our moral standing or national prestige by the glittering towers of the privileged, but by the integrity of our criminal justice system and the humanity of the institutions where the incarcerated work toward the freedom of decent and productive lives. To read the compelling stories in Right Here, Right Now is to launch in our minds the fundamental changes that must come. These voices lead us to the unavoidable conclusion that these men's lives were never met with justice, either within our broader society or within our criminal injustice system.” — Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, author of The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement Is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear

“Revelatory. Having spent twenty-five years advocating for comprehensive criminal justice reform and having spent time with many innocent people in maximum security prisons, I have often found more decency and compassion amongst the people inside the prison walls than without. These first-person stories serve to remind us of the humanity and common decency that we as a society all too often push aside in our rush to judgment and punishment.” — Jason Flom, host of the podcast, Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom

"This powerful collection contains true stories from the dozens of men living on death row across the country. Some remembrances stretch back to childhood experiences of poverty and police misconduct, while other accounts pertain to life  inside the carceral system, as the writers fight to hold on to their connections to the outside world. The events of 2020 underscored systematic inequality and the injustices of the justice system; here, these firsthand accounts form a moving, personal call to action." — Sarah Edwards, IndyWeek


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Price: $22.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Lynden Harris is the founder and director of Hidden Voices, an arts collective that collaborates with underrepresented communities to create performances, exhibits, and media that explore difficult social issues. Right Here, Right Now is part of the project Serving Life: ReVisioning Justice.

Henderson Hill is Senior Counsel at the ACLU Capital Punishment Project.

Timothy B. Tyson is Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Foreword / Henderson Hill  ix
Acknowledgments  xv
Introduction  1
About the Stories  9
I. The Part That Was Innocent (Early Childhood, Birth to Five Years Old)
1. Playing Solitary  17
2. Grandma Shot Bob  18
3. Ajar  19
4. Now Questions Asked  21
5. Downpour  22
6. Nigger Lover  24
7. Shelf Life  25
8. Not the Worst Fate  27
9. Car Ride  30
10. Momma's Boy  32
11. Good Habits  34
II. Boot Camp (Elementary School, Six to Ten Years Old)
12. It Was Reefer  39
13. Blistered  41
14. Ode to a Pretty Girl  43
15. U-Turn  45
16. The Monster  46
17. Don't Bring a Gun to a Knife Fight  47
18. Red, Half-White, and Blue  49
19. Badge of Honor  51
20. Boot Camp  52
21. Lesson Learned  54
22. Better Off Dead  56
23. Shake It Off  58
III. The Drama Was Live (Middle School, Eleven to Thirteen Years Old)
24. You Can Be Anything  63
25. Bootleg  65
26. Luxury  67
27. Cop  68
28. Man of the House  69
29. Trance  71
30. Tar Pit  73
31. Point Blank  75
32. Role Model  77
33. Elliot MF Jones  79
34. Suspension of Disbelief  81
IV. From Bad to Worse (Fourteen Years Old to Arrest)
35. A Wrap  85
36. JD  86
37. When We Were Young  88
38. Stinging Bee  90
39. Hands On  92
40. On My Own  94
41. Ain't Got No Name  96
42. Slap in the Face  98
43. Doing My Job  100
44. White Devil  102
45. Voices in the Dark  103
46. Finally  105
47. Crossing Over  107
V. Given the Circumstances
48. A Kind of Peace  113
49. Seeing the Light  116
50. Boy  119
51. The Quiet Room  122
52. Helpless  124
53. Just Like a Frog  127
54. The Source  129
55. I Heard You  131
56. Mercy on My Soul  133
57. Butterflies  135
58. After the Storm  137
VI. Worst of the Worst (Entering Death Row and Solitary)
59. What You Got?  141
60. Worst of the Worst  142
61. Nursing Home  144
62. Combat Readiness  143
63. The Hole  148
64. Peanut  150
65. Motel 6  152
66. All These Guys  155
67. Word is Bond  157
VII. You Are Not Here to Be Rehabilitated
68. The Raw  163
69. Firstborn  165
70. Valentine's Day  166
71. Time Lost  169
72. Hugs  171
73. I Knew What Was Coming  173
74. The Real Question  175
75. For My Heart Only  177
76. Guilty by Association  179
77. Pumping Iron  181
78. I Became Him  183
79. Definitely Christmas  185
80. Sidekick for Life  187
81. The Huggy Boys  190
82. Cellar Dwellers  192
83. Your Neighbor  195
84. Beyond the Wall  198
85. Ten Cents a Minute  201
86. You Can Do It  204
87. The Kind that Never Go Away  206
88. Making It Home  208
89. Someone Was Going to Die  211
90. Sugar Rush  214
VIII. Every Day's Worth Celebrating (Facing Execution)
91. Deal the Cards  219
92. Weighing the Cost  221
93. The Envelope  223
94. Final Hours  226
95. Cruel and Unusual  228
96. Black and Mild  229
97. Something Wasn't Right  231
98. Holy Week  234
99. Dawn  235
Afterword / Timothy B. Tyson  237
Resources for Deeper Connection  249

Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1411-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1197-2