Last week I noted that an important original eight-part CNN series was starting (last Sunday) on the death penalty in the USA, with ace documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney and some guy named Redford as producers and Susan Sarandon (let’s not forget the great Dead Man Walking) as narrator. There’s a full web site up and details here. I observed that it will “call into question various beliefs surrounding America’s justice system and the death penalty.” That sounded like a good thing, and echoes my two books on the subject, including this recent ebook, Dead Reckoning.

Coming this Sunday in Part II of series: how Joyce Ride, mother of famed astronaut Sally Ride, helped free a woman on death row in California. I’ve previewed it and it’s terrific. If you can’t wait, there’s a full article about it here. Excerpt:

It wasn’t until the early 1990s that Joyce Ride came to the rescue.

She was visiting women inmates as a member of Friends Outside, one of many nonprofits across the nation that help inmates and their families cope with incarceration and transitioning to and from prison life. By supporting prisoner visits by friends and family members, Friends Outside says, it reduces stress among prisoners, preventing despair and unhealthy behavior.

Ride had already raised two daughters as a California housewife. One had grown up to become a Presbyterian minister. The other, the late Sally Ride, had become NASA’s first woman astronaut.

A nun who volunteered by visiting women in jail inspired Ride to learn more about why so many women who are victims of domestic abuse end up in prison. After her husband died, Ride began dedicating many of her days to visiting incarcerated women. “It interested me,” she said.

Ride’s younger daughter, the minister, understood. But it confused her astronaut daughter. “Sally couldn’t figure out why I was visiting prisons,” Ride said. Compared to her work at NASA, she said, “it was a whole other world.”

Video excerpt.