Cheever, Joan M. 1957(?)-

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Cheever, Joan M. 1957(?)-


Born c. 1957; married Dennis Christopher Quinn (in construction management), October 7, 1989. Education: Southern Methodist University, bachelor's degree; Columbia University, M.S.; St. Mary's University School of Law, San Antonio, TX, J.D.


E-mail—[email protected]


Journalist, writer, editor, and lawyer. Worked as the assistant editor of the National Law Journal, New York, NY.


Bar associations of Texas, New York, and Connecticut.


Broadway Bank Allways Open, Watercress Press (San Antonio, TX), 1991.

Back from the Dead: One Woman's Search for the Men Who Walked off America's Death Row, John Wiley (Hoboken, NJ), 2006.

Contributor to periodicals, including the New York Times.


Joan M. Cheever is a journalist and lawyer who defended a murderer and was asked by her client to oversee his eventual execution. This experience led her to write Back from the Dead: One Woman's Search for the Men Who Walked off America's Death Row. For her book, Cheever tracked down ex-prisoners who were released from prison and death row in Georgia following a 1972 Supreme Court case that temporarily ruled the death penalty to be unconstitutional. During her initial revisiting of the Furman v. Georgia case, Cheever discovered that of the 322 men and women whom she tracked down years after their release, the vast majority remained outside of prison, reflecting a lower recidivism rate than the general population. In fact, only five parolees murdered again and only thirty-two others committed crimes. In addition, seventy-five more returned to prison on technical violations of their parole. Overall, Cheever interviewed 125 prisoners who were released. "The extraordinary achievement of Cheever's book is the courage that underlies its vision," wrote Michael Feeney Callan in an article in the Europe Intelligence Wire. "Whether or not at physical risk, Cheever pledged herself to unbiased investigation, and never wavered. No call went unanswered, no confrontation was avoided." Other reviewers praised the author for depicting these murderers and ex-cons as more than just statistics. For example, David R. Dow wrote on the Houston Chronicle Web site: "Her intimate reporting reveals them as human beings—flawed, to be sure, and deserving of punishment, no doubt, but human nonetheless." Francis Sandiford, writing in the Library Journal, called the book "a godsend for opponents of capital punishment" and "essential reading for anyone interested in … the death penalty."



Canberra Times, January 13, 2007, "Summer Selections from the Macabre to the Ridiculous," review of Back from the Dead: One Woman's Search for the Men Who Walked off America's Death Row.

Europe Intelligence Wire, July 29, 2006, Michael Feeney Callan, "Dead Men Walking," review of Back from the Dead.

Library Journal, September 15, 2006, Frances Sandiford, review of Back from the Dead, p. 74.

New York Times, October 8, 1989, "Joan M. Cheever Weds D.C. Quinn."


Back from the Dead Web site, (May 15, 2007).

Houston Chronicle Web site, (August 10, 2006), David R. Dow, review of Back from the Dead.

Notable Writers, (May 15, 2007), brief profile of author.