Conversations with the Capeman: An Intimate Biography of Salvador Agron

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Painted Leaf Press, 2000 - Murder - 514 pages
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New York, 1959: A playground confrontation in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan with a Puerto Rican gang leaves two boys stabbed to death, and a third critically injured. Because the victims were white and not members of any gang, the Puerto Rican invaders quickly became the incarnation of evil, and their leader, sixteen-year old Salvador Agron, the embodiment of all that was wrong with New York City at a time when teen gang activity was raging. Called the Capeman because of the red, satin-lined cape that he wore into battle the night of the playground killings, Agron became the focus of unrelenting media scrutiny. Convicted when he was barely seventeen years old, he was the youngest person ever to be sentenced to death in the electric chair. After nearly two years in the Death House at Sing Sing Prison, a group of prominent citizens, including Eleanor Roosevelt and the governor of Puerto Rico, convinced Governor Rockefeller to commute Agron's sentence to one of life imprisonment. Greenhaven Prison, 1974: Researching the spiritual transformation that sometimes effects death row inmates awaiting execution, Richard Jacoby, a graduate student from Brooklyn college, begins a voluminous correspondence with Agron. Convinced that Agron's story must be told, Jacoby promises to help him. Together, they begin a journey of transformation that has finally culminated, twenty-five years later, in the publication of this astonishing book. Salvador Agron's story was so powerful and heartfelt that it inspired songwriter Paul Simon to collaborate with Derek Walcott, winner of the Noble Prize for Literature, to risk their reputations to write and produce a multi-million dollar musical onBroadway in the late 1990's. Conversations with the Capeman is a story of great pathos, by turns shocking and heartbreaking. It is guaranteed to challenge our deeply-held notions of crime, punishment, redemption; and ultimately, the very nature of forgiveness.

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About the author (2000)

Jacoby is a native New Yorker who was brought up in the Bronx and Brooklyn. He became acquainted with Salvador Agron in 1972 while working on a doctoral dissertation detailing the effects of long-term confinement on death row. He is employed as a special education teacher in a public school and works with profoundly handicapped children.

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