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New book reveals the complex lives of death row inmates and their families

Published by HarperCollins, ‘The Punished’ by Jahnavi Misra will be released on 4 February on ThePrint's SoftCover.

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New Delhi: The Punished’ by London-based author Jahnavi Misra is a collection of 19 short stories that provide a glimpse into the lives of those often demonised by society and discarded by the State — death row inmates.

The book is based on interviews of nearly 400 death row prisoners conducted by Project 39A, a research and litigation centre based out of National Law University, Delhi, between 2013 and 2016. The centre is led by Anup Surendranath who is also an Assistant Professor of Law at the university.

The book, published by HarperCollins, will be released on 4 February on ‘SoftCover’, ThePrint’s e-venue to launch select non-fiction books.

‘The Punished’ draws on these interviews and brings to light the personal and complex stories of death row inmates, often weaved with issues of poverty and inability to afford legal representation.

Some of the stories include an ex-bandit fighting the silence of prison life with her notebook and pen, a family remembering the night their younger son was arrested for rape and murder, and a woman finding out from her fellow prisoners that she’s been given the death penalty.

“It is as much about the lives of prisoners and their families as it is about holding a mirror to society. It is an appeal to the humanity in all of us to know a little more about the people whose lives we want to take,” reads a note on the cover of the book.

Misra is a writer, researcher and filmmaker with a PhD in English Literature from Durham University. Her current research work focuses on how feminist philosophy interacts with feminist sexuality. In 2020, she directed and wrote a stop motion animated short about the death penalty in India called ‘I am Ramdeen’.


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