In 1998, Mike Gray changed the political landscape with his book Drug Crazy: How We Got Into This Mess and How We Can Get Out. His book is credited with turning the staunch Republican Governor of New Mexico against the drug war. Now, with The Death Game, he is destined to transform the terrain of criminal justice.
Written with the power of a gritty novel, this documentary on the death penalty shows why justice and capital punishment don’t mix. Zeroing in on issues of police brutality, pressures on prosecutors and judges seeking career advancement, and the frailty of eyewitness accounts, Gray puts you in the murder scene on page 1 and won’t let you go until the final riveting paragraph.
Here’s a taste—from page 1:
Bernadine Skillern screams through the windshield at the man with the gun—"Don’t! Don’t! Don’t!"
Right in front of her under the glare of lights in the Safeway parking lot a white man with a bag of groceries is getting mugged. A black teenager has a gun to his head. In a flash of amazing courage Bernadine leans on her horn and screams at the kid. He glances at her for a heart-stopping second. Then he turns back to his victim. "POP!"
The white guy drops his groceries and collapses on the hood of a parked car as the shooter dashes for the street. At this point, everybody within range hits the deck. But not Bernadine Skillern. She drops into gear and peels out after him, almost cutting him off at the exit. Framed in her headlights, he looks directly at her again—probably wondering if he’s run into the Lone Ranger.
After a distinguished career as a documentary filmmaker— American Revolution II, The Murder of Fred Hampton — Mike Gray drew on his engineering background to craft the original screenplay for the eerily prescient film, The China Syndrome. He continues to write for film and television, including several episodes of Star Trek.