Cover image for Conversations with the Capeman : the untold story of Salvador Agron
Conversations with the Capeman : the untold story of Salvador Agron
Jacoby, Richard, 1945-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Painted Leaf Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xii, 514 pages ; 23 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV6248.A275 J33 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



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.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

In 1959, Salvador Agron, then 16, was part of a Puerto Rican gang that killed two teen-aged boys who'd been mistaken for rival gang members. The case fired the media. Known as Capeman, for the red cape he wore during gang fights, Agron was saved from his death-row conviction by Eleanor Roosevelt's intervention. Jacoby was working on a doctorate in criminal justice when he began corresponding with Agron in 1973. This book, which alternates between the perspectives of Agron and Jacoby, is based on 12 years of correspondence. Letters, poetry, and recollections over that period show Agron's transformation and redemption. While imprisoned, Agron learned to read and write and developed acute insights about U.S. socio-politics, particularly the prison and justice systems. Agron provides raw and powerful recollections of poverty, violence, and sexuality in his youth in Puerto Rico and on the streets of New York, and later in prison. Released after 20 years in prison, he was unable to escape the social realities he had railed against and eventually became a crack addict and died of AIDS. --Vanessa Bush