InThe Death Penalty in America: Current Controversies, Hugo Adam Bedau, one of our preeminent scholars on the subject,provides a comprehensive sourcebook on the death penalty, making the process of informed consideration not only possible but fascinating as well. No mere revision of the third edition of The Death Penalty in America--which the New York Times praised as "the most complete, well-edited and comprehensive collection of readings on the pros and cons of the death penalty"--this volume brings together an entirely new selection of 40 essays and includes updated statistical and research data, recent Supreme Court decisions, and the best current contributions to the debate over capital punishment. From the status of the death penalty worldwide to current attitudes of Americans toward convicted killers, from legal arguments challenging the constitutionality of the death penalty to moral arguments enlisting the New Testament in support of it, from controversies over the role of race and class in the judicial system to proposals to televise executions, Bedau gathers readings that explore all the most compelling aspects of this most compelling issue.
Over a career spanning nearly four decades, Rick Unklesbay has tried over one hundred murder cases before juries that ended with sixteen men and women receiving the death sentence. Arbitrary Death depicts some of the most horrific murders in Tucson, Arizona, the author's prosecution of those cases, and how the death penalty was applied. It provides the framework to answer the questions: Why is America the only Western country to still use the death penalty? Can a human-run system treat those cases fairly and avoid unconstitutional arbitrariness? It is an insider's view from someone who has spent decades prosecuting murder cases and who now argues that the death penalty doesn't work and our system is fundamentally flawed. With a rational, balanced approach, Unklesbay depicts cases that represent how different parts of the criminal justice system are responsible for the arbitrary nature of the death penalty and work against the fair application of the law. The prosecution, trial courts, juries, and appellate courts all play a part in what ultimately is a roll of the dice as to whether a defendant lives or dies. Arbitrary Death is for anyone who wonders why and when its government seeks to legally take the life of one of its citizens. It will have you questioning whether you can support a system that applies death as an arbitrary punishment -- and often decades after the sentence was given.
This book offers a broad overview of public attitudes to the death penalty in India. It examines in detail the progress made by international organizations worldwide in their efforts to abolish the death penalty and provides statistics from various countries that have already abolished it. The book focuses on four main aspects: the excessive cost and poor use of funds; wrongful executions of innocent people; the death penalty’s failure as an efficient deterrent; and the alternative sentence of life imprisonment without parole. In closing, the book analyses the current debates on capital punishment around the globe and in the Indian context. Based on public opinion surveys, the book is essential reading for all those interested in India, its government, criminal justice system, and policies on the death penalty and human rights.
Capital punishment by United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the Judiciary
The 4th edition edition of this classic study has been thoroughly revised to provide up-to-date information on the scope and practice of capital punishment and the movement, backed by international organizations and human rights treaties, to abolish the death penalty worldwide. As in previouseditions, it draws on Roger Hood's experience as consultant to the United Nations for the Secretary General's five-yearly surveys of capital punishment as well as the latest information from non-governmental organizations and the academic literature.Not only have more countries - such as the Phillipines - abolished capital punishment, but amongst those that retain the death penalty, fewer have been carrying out executions. Legal challenges to the mandatory imposition of capital punishment have been successful, as has the movement to abolish thedeath penalty for those who commit a capital crime when under the age of 18. Of particular interest is the situation in China, where all death sentences are to be reviewed by the People's Supreme Court. Support for capital punishment is waning in the USA, where concern is mounting as evidence ofconviction of the innocent grows, and where there have been renewed challenges to the constitutionality of the death penalty.Despite the many advances towards world-wide abolition, this book reveals many human rights abuses where the death penalty still exists. These include the wide range of crimes still subject to capital punishment in some countries, the lack of protection from police abuse, unfair trials, lack ofaccess to qualified defence counsel, terrible conditions and excessive periods of time spent on 'death row', and public and painful forms of execution. Roger Hood and Carolyn Hoyle engage with the latest debates on the realities of capital punishment, especially the claim that the death penalty is a uniquely effective deterrent to murder and other serious crimes. This edition brings up-to-date the discussion of whether capital punishment can everbe administered equitably, without discrimination or error, and, for the first time, considers the alternatives to capital punishment, especially the problems associated with a mandatory sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. This edition also considers the role andinfluence of victims' families and victim interest movements.
This edited volume brings together leading scholars on the death penalty within international, regional and municipal law. It considers the intrinsic elements of both the promotion and demise of the punishment around the world, and provides analysis which contributes to the evolving abolitionist discourse. The contributors consider the current developments within the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the African Commission and the Commonwealth Caribbean, and engage with the emergence of regional norms promoting collective restriction and renunciation of the punishment. They investigate perspectives and questions for retentionist countries, focusing on the United States, China, Korea and Taiwan, and reveal the iniquities of contemporary capital judicial systems. Emphasis is placed on the issues of transparency of municipal jurisdictions, the jurisprudence on the 'death row phenomenon' and the changing nature of public opinion. The volume surveys and critiques the arguments used to scrutinize the death penalty to then offer a detailed analysis of possible replacement sanctions.
Many studies during the past few decades have sought to determine whether the death penalty has any deterrent effect on homicide rates. Researchers have reached widely varying, even contradictory, conclusions. Some studies have concluded that the threat of capital punishment deters murders, saving large numbers of lives; other studies have concluded that executions actually increase homicides; still others, that executions have no effect on murder rates. Commentary among researchers, advocates, and policymakers on the scientific validity of the findings has sometimes been acrimonious. Against this backdrop, the National Research Council report Deterrence and the Death Penalty assesses whether the available evidence provides a scientific basis for answering questions of if and how the death penalty affects homicide rates. This new report from the Committee on Law and Justice concludes that research to date on the effect of capital punishment on homicide rates is not useful in determining whether the death penalty increases, decreases, or has no effect on these rates. The key question is whether capital punishment is less or more effective as a deterrent than alternative punishments, such as a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Yet none of the research that has been done accounted for the possible effect of noncapital punishments on homicide rates. The report recommends new avenues of research that may provide broader insight into any deterrent effects from both capital and noncapital punishments.
The death penalty arouses our passions as does few other issues. Some view taking another person's life as just and reasonable punishment while others see it as an inhumane and barbaric act. But the intensity of feeling that capital punishment provokes often obscures its long and varied history in this country. Now, for the first time, we have a comprehensive history of the death penalty in the United States. Law professor Stuart Banner tells the story of how, over four centuries, dramatic changes have taken place in the ways capital punishment has been administered and experienced. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the penalty was standard for a laundry list of crimes--from adultery to murder, from arson to stealing horses. Hangings were public events, staged before audiences numbering in the thousands, attended by women and men, young and old, black and white alike. Early on, the gruesome spectacle had explicitly religious purposes--an event replete with sermons, confessions, and last minute penitence--to promote the salvation of both the condemned and the crowd. Through the nineteenth century, the execution became desacralized, increasingly secular and private, in response to changing mores. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, ironically, as it has become a quiet, sanitary, technological procedure, the death penalty is as divisive as ever. By recreating what it was like to be the condemned, the executioner, and the spectator, Banner moves beyond the debates, to give us an unprecedented understanding of capital punishment's many meanings. As nearly four thousand inmates are now on death row, and almost one hundred are currently being executed each year, the furious debate is unlikely to diminish. The Death Penalty is invaluable in understanding the American way of the ultimate punishment. Table of Contents: Abbreviations Introduction 1. Terror, Blood, and Repentance 2. Hanging Day 3. Degrees of Death 4. The Origins of Opposition 5. Northern Reform, Southern Retention 6. Into the Jail Yard 7. Technological Cures 8. Decline 9. To the Supreme Court 10. Resurrection Epilogue Appendix: Counting Executions Notes Acknowledgments Index Reviews of this book: [Banner] deftly balances history and politics, crafting a book that will be valuable to anyone interested in knowing more about capital punishment, no matter what his or her views are on the ethical issues surrounding the topic. --David Pitt, Booklist Reviews of this book: In this well-researched and clear account...Banner charts how and why this country went from having one of the world's mildest punitive systems to one of its harshest. --Publishers Weekly Reviews of this book: Stuart Banner's book is fine and balanced and important. His lucid history of this grim subject is scrupulously accurate...It is refreshingly free of the tendentiousness and the sensationalism that this subject invites. --Richard A. Posner, New Republic Reviews of this book: [The] contrast between the past and the present can now be seen with great clarity thanks to...Stuart Banner and his comprehensive book, The Death Penalty...American historians have been slow to undertake anything like a full-scale study of the subject...Banner's book does much to fill [the gaps]. His book is an important and comprehensive...treatment of the topic. --Hugo Adam Bedau, Boston Review Reviews of this book: Despite the gruesome nature of the book's topic, it is difficult to stop reading. Banner's research is fascinating, his writing style compelling. Given the emotional nature of the subject (few people known to me are wishy-washy about whether the death penalty is moral or immoral), Banner walks the line of neutrality skillfully, without seeming evasive. --Steve Weinberg, Legal Times Reviews of this book: Stuart Banner's The Death Penalty is a tour de force, remarkable for its neutrality as it traces the ways in which the death penalty has been applied, and for what kinds of crimes, from the Colonial era to the present. Banner...writes like a historian who believes perspective is best gained by dispassionately setting out what happened and letting everyone come to his or her own conclusions. I think, in this book, that works wonderfully. On a subject in which emotions run so high, it seems awfully useful to have a dispassionate voice. After all, if Banner allowed his own feelings on the death penalty--pro, con or somewhere in the middle--to be known, the book easily could be dismissed as a diatribe. He doesn't, and it can't. --Judith Neuman Beck, San Jose Mercury News Reviews of this book: Law professor Banner...offers a persuasive examination of the evolution of capital punishment from Colonial times onward. He makes clear that the death penalty has possessed generally consistent support from the US populace, although changes in the sensibilities of juries, executioners, legal theoreticians, and judges have occurred...Highly recommended. --R. C. Cottrell, Choice Reviews of this book: Stuart Banner aptly illustrates in The Death Penalty, like the nation, the death penalty has changed with the times...Banner's account spotlights a number of interesting trends in American history...Mostly evenhanded in the tour he provides through the history of the death penalty and its role in and reflection of American society, he has managed to provide an accessible look at what is a profoundly controversial and complicated subject. --Steven Martinovich, Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel Reviews of this book: "For centuries," Stuart Banner tells us, "Americans had been proud to possess a criminal-justice system that made less use of the death penalty than just about any other place on the globe, including the countries of western Europe." But no longer. Now we possess "one of the harshest criminal codes in the world." The Death Penalty helps explain that turnaround, but only in the course of a complicated story in which different factors emerge at different times to play often unforeseeable roles...[This is a] superbly told history. --Paul Rosenberg, Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News Reviews of this book: Stuart Banner's lucid, richly researched book brings us, for the first time, a comprehensive history of American capital punishment from colonial times to the present. He describes the practices that characterized the institution at different periods, elucidates their ritual purposes and social meanings, and identifies the forces that led to their transformation. The book's well-ordered narrative is interspersed with individual case histories, that give flesh and blood to the account. --David Garland, Times Literary Supplement Reviews of this book: [An] informative, even-handed, chillingly fascinating account of why and how the U.S. government and many state governments decided to sponsor executions of criminals--even though innocent defendants might die, too. --Jane Henderson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch Reviews of this book: Stuart Banner's The Death Penalty is a splendidly objective achievement. Delightfully written, free of academic pretense, liberally sprinkled with apt references from contemporary sources, the book exhaustively explores the multifaceted evolution of America's penal practices. --Elsbeth Bothe, Baltimore Sun The Death Penalty is certain to be the definitive account of the American experience with capital punishment, from its beginnings in the seventeenth century, to the execution of Timothy McVeigh in 2001. This is a first rate piece of scholarship: well written, deeply researched, fascinating to read, and full of insights and good common sense. It is, in my view, one of the finest books to deal with this troubled and troubling subject. Historical and legal scholarship owe a debt of gratitude to Stuart Banner. --Lawrence Friedman, Stanford Law School A masterful book. This is a long overdue account which fills a huge gap in our understanding of America's long and complex relationship to state killing. With meticulous scholarship and lucid prose, Banner has written a compelling account of the place of capital punishment in our society. It sets the standard for all future scholarship on the history of the death penalty in America. --Austin Sarat, author of When the State Kills: Capital Punishment and the American Condition The Death Penalty, a study we have badly needed, is the first history of the nation's engagement--as well as its disengagement--with capital punishment from the country's earliest days to the present. With a sure grasp of the constitutional issues, Stuart Banner greatly advances a conversation at last underway about the rightness of putting people to death for having inflicted a death. Banner's greatest and most useful feat is remaining dispassionate on a subject that he cares deeply about--as do a growing number of his fellow Americans. --William S. McFeely, author of Proximity to Death The Death Penalty beautifully explains the changing paths traveled by supporters and opponents of capital punishment over the years. It explores a subject of enormous symbolic importance to Americans today, linking our views about the death penalty to our larger concerns about crime. --David Oshinsky, author of "Worse Than Slavery": Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice Banner's book is a superbly detailed and textured social history of a subject too often treated in legal abstractions. It demonstrates how capital punishment has gnawed at the conscience and imagination of Americans, and how it has challenged their efforts to define themselves culturally, politically, and racially. --Robert Weisberg, Stanford Law School