#117: David Dow On Fighting The Death Penalty


With a career spent fighting for the rights of over 110 wrongly convicted Death Row inmates, my guest this week is criminal defense attorney, David R. Dow. Author of multiple award-winning memoirs and novels, and the former litigation director for the state of Texas, David gives us an in-depth look at his journey to exonerate and seek justice for the wrongly convicted and to shine a light on this violent practice that is still prevalent in the U.S today.

Show Notes

David introduces his background and journey as a defense attorney and discusses the efforts he and his team have made to successfully exonerate the many deserving people avoid death row. [2:46]

David explains the uses of the death penalty method in the US and how it differs per state, with the highest numbers of inmates on death row being in the state of Texas.  [3:50]

David discusses the personalities and attitudes towards crime in Texas, and the effect local culture has on the use of the death penalty as an official method of crime prevention [11:19]

David explains the statistics regarding inmates who have been falsely accused and incriminated, giving examples from his own experiences [17:10]

David describes the elimination of human rights, specifically referencing human contact for inmates on death row [19:17]

David discusses the mythology of the death penalty in reference to examples from popular culture, sharing a realistic viewpoint of the process and his eyewitness accounts having been present in executions [25:55]

David recounts the story of Anthony Graves, a former inmate on death row that he had successfully exonerated through his practice. [38:11]

David discusses life after death row, and experiences he has had with the many inmates he had released and spared from execution [44:05]

David discusses his published memoirs, “The Autobiography of an Execution” & “Things I’ve Learned from Dying”, and his novel “Confessions of an Innocent Man”, the influences behind these titles and the limitations he faced due to confidentiality.  [49:21]

David answers quick fire questions, including his career highlights and the people that have inspired and taught him throughout his life and career [55:24]


“The machinery in Texas is just so gruesome, in terms of chewing up and spitting out their inmates” [4:15]

“You just don’t know how you’re going to react when this is your full-time job” [25:10]

“It is an orchestrated act, that is choreographed and practiced… He is executed, it is a violent act”. [27:05]

“It has a very tribal feel to it. I am a member of one tribe, and they are a member of the other” [35:02]

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