What influences you to write? Fact to fiction or a moving memoir, life gives us the stories we share.
Bill Harper spent fourteen years with the Philadelphia Inquirer as a reporter, writer, and editor. He has written several non-fiction books based on his investigative and personal experiences.
This life experience is one no parent would ever wish to experience.
On November 23, 1980 my youngest son, 25-year-old Brian Patrick Harper, was murdered in a convenience story holdup. The killer was eventually captured, tried, convicted of second-degree murder, and sentenced to a measly 10-years in a Minnesota state prison. For Brian’s parents, his two brothers and three sisters, he was gone forever. The killer got $26 in the store holdup and a paltry 10-year sentence (with time-off for good behavior).
That injustice has been stuck in my craw ever since. Shortly after the 25th anniversary of Brian’s death, and having read of many other injustices in the legal system, I started researching material for what would become “Brian’s book,” which was titled An Eye for an Eye: In Defense of the Death Penalty. Because no traditional publisher would touch the subject from that point of view, “Brian’s book” was self-published.
There is very little mention of the Harper family tragedy in An Eye for an Eye but let me offer a couple of lines from its Introduction to give the reader an idea of where the writer is coming from with this subject:
The U.S. State Department reported that as of 2002, “public support [for the death penalty] has dropped from 80 percent to 63 percent since 1994.” A more recent Gallup Poll study shows the in-favor figure dropping to 61 percent in 2011. The death penalty opponents are winning because most of America’s vast “silent majority” is conceding the argument through inaction and default, and through ignorance and apathy, through “I don’t know and I don’t care”.
An Eye for an Eye: In Defense of the Death Penalty is an attempt to overcome that ignorance and apathy – and it strives to preserve, protect, and defend this concept:
“For a crime there must be a punishment; the punishment must fit the crime – and for the ultimate crime there must be the ultimate punishment.”
Via a series of chapter-opening vignettes illustrating the ghastly, brutal, monstrous murders committed by some of those the death penalty dissenters would spare, the book refutes the arguments of those abolitionists who would do away with capital punishment. An Eye for an Eye presents an undeniable case for preserving the death penalty and for its rational but expedited use.
And now, here’s the ultimate irony:
One of Brian’s sisters, Beth Ellen, named her son Brian Joel – in honor of her murdered brother. On January 9, 2013, 22-year-old Brian Joel was – like his namesake uncle – murdered, during an argument with his roommate. And, being the only witness to the altercation, the roommate got off scot-free!!
Books by William T. Harger
Second Thourghts: Presidential Regrets with their Supremem Cour Nominations (A B,R,A,G,Medallion Honoree)
Eleven Dayis in Hell” The 1974 Carrasco Prison Siege at Huntsville, Texas
An Eye For an Eye: In Defense of the Death Penalty
How Come? 96 Unanswerable Questions
The River of Life – and Death
We Three: Fred, the Ferry Boat, and Me
While sympathising with the author, I reject the death penalty on one ground alone: it is a rare case when there is not the possibility , however slight, that an innocent person may be put to death. Jurors know this, which is why they are reluctant to convict on a capital charge and many murderers walk free.
I agree Chris, I am not a proponent of the death penalty for a number of reason which I wont go into here. However, it always boggles my mind that such a heinous crime can be committed and the punishment so meager. Another discussion-
My thought here though are more about how the good and bad events of life influence writers. Several other indieBRAG writers have used events in their lives to write fiction – The Triangle Murders is one example. Although Bill has written other books, I wonder how much these events had to do with his desire to become a writer.