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Dead Run: Untold Story of Dennis Stockton & America's Only Mass Escape from Death Row

Jackson, Joe and Burke, William F.

54 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0862419328 / ISBN 13: 9780862419325
Published by Random House Times Books, 1999
Used Condition: Fair
From Better World Books (Mishawaka, IN, U.S.A.)

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Dead Run: Untold Story of Dennis Stockton & ...

Publisher: Random House Times Books

Publication Date: 1999

Book Condition: Fair

Edition: First Edition ~1st Printing.

About this title


Summers are always stifling in southern Virginia, and they're even hotter on the Mecklenburg Correctional Center's Death Row when Dennis Stockton arrives there in July 1983. Charged with murder for hire, Stockton insisted he was innocent, but his jury sentenced him to die. In prison, he begins keeping a diary and it soon becomes his lifeline, nurturing dreams of freedom and publication as an author.

Mecklenburg's officials had always prided themselves on running a secure prison, but that left them vulnerable to an ingenious escape conspiracy. Though indispensable in the plotting, Stockton decides not to run, betting instead on a new trial and exoneration. The escape of the "Mecklenburg Six" is dazzlingly suspenseful, as they take hostages, don guards' uniforms, and, staging a monumental bluff, make history with America's first mass escape from Death Row. Mean-while, Stockton notes it all in his journal.

After the escape, a Norfolk newspaper editor, William F. Burke, Jr., writes to the remaining inmates, seeking information on the unprecedented breakout. Stockton's diary becomes the most revealing account, and when excerpts are published, a scandalous portrait of Death Row emerges: bribed guards, marijuana plants, homebrew alcohol, weapon stashes, unlocked cell doors, and jailhouse sex. Overnight, Stockton becomes the most hated man in Virginia's prisons for his exposé. During the next eleven years, he survives plots against his life and endures subhuman conditions.

Throughout his ordeal he struggles to find his voice as a writer, while battling to gain a new trial and escape the "monster factory," his name for Death Row. As Stockton's scheduled execution nears, the case against him begins unraveling, leaving readers to ponder the true nature of justice.


Dead Run is the story of Dennis Stockton, mastermind of one of the most daring mass prison breaks in American history. It begins with his conviction for a crime he maintained that he didn't commit and weaves through his troubled life, his perpetual incarcerations, and his often brilliant, often comical escapades within the prison system. With frequent excerpts from Stockton's prolific diaries, the book reveals not only much about its surprisingly insightful protagonist but about the prison system in general, including institutionalized corruption, power-hungry guards, inmates, and prison officers. There's more than enough intrigue, action, and disturbing comedy to fill several thrillers, but Dead Run is a true story of a man who refused to sit still and wait for the hour of his death. --Lisa Higgins

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