Cruel And Unusual Punishment

Overview

The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution created one of the nation's most valued freedoms but, at the same time, one of its most persistent controversies. On 184 separate occasions, the Supreme Court attempted to decide what constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment."

Constitutional scholars Joseph A. Melusky and Judge Keith A. Pesto help readers make sense of the controversy. The authors begin by sketching the context of the debate in a general overview that addresses ...

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Overview

The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution created one of the nation's most valued freedoms but, at the same time, one of its most persistent controversies. On 184 separate occasions, the Supreme Court attempted to decide what constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment."

Constitutional scholars Joseph A. Melusky and Judge Keith A. Pesto help readers make sense of the controversy. The authors begin by sketching the context of the debate in a general overview that addresses issues such as excessive bails and fines, and noncapital offenses. But their primary focus is capital punishment. In a detailed, chronologically ordered discussion, they trace the evolving opinion of the nation's highest court from the late 19th century to the present, analyzing issues, arguments, holdings, and outcomes.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"…seeks to provide a concise and coherent background on constitutional freedoms as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Cruel and Unusual Punishment achieves that purpose admirably … Highly recommended. Public, two-year, and four-year colleges; general readers and undergraduates."

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Choice

"Well written and easily accessible to students at the high school level, this title would be an excellent addition to both public and school libraries. It would be particularly useful to students preparing to debate either side of the issue."

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VOYA

"This compact volume delivers a balanced review of the history, development, and current status of the death penalty in America … suitable for public libraries and academic libraries serving undergraduates.' "

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Reference & User Services Quarterly

"This book discusses a wide range of issues falling under the 8th Amendment's protection against cruel and unusual punishment, including excessive fines and the three strikes laws … Cruel and Unusual Punishment is recommended for public, high school, and undergraduate library collections."

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American Reference Books Annual

VOYA
The death penalty remains a hotly contested issue in the American legal system, having been tested in more than 184 Supreme Court cases. Although the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution specifically prohibits "cruel and unusual punishment," American citizens are still subject to lengthy prison sentences, solitary confinement, and the ultimate punishment of execution, most often now by lethal injection. The six chapters in this title from the America's Freedoms reference series provide a concise yet thorough overview of the theoretical and historical evolution of the death penalty; issues specific to the twentieth century (e.g., racial bias in the judicial system); penalties less than death and conditions of confinement; key people, cases, and events; and seminal documents. Each chapter contains a list of references and further readings, carefully chosen to represent all perspectives on the issues at hand. The documents, beginning with the Code of Hammurabi through excerpts from selected U.S. Supreme Court opinions, will be particularly useful to students engaged in research. A chronology of capital punishment; table of cases; appendix with data containing public opinion surveys, state execution statistics, and federal sentencing guidelines; and an annotated bibliography are also included. Well written and easily accessible to students at the high school level, this title would be an excellent addition to both public and school libraries. It would be particularly useful to students preparing to debate either side of the issue. Index. Source Notes. Further Reading. Chronology. Appendix. 2003, ABC-CLIO, 376p. PLB
— Cindy Lombardo
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781576076026
  • Publisher: ABC-Clio, LLC
  • Publication date: 2/21/2003
  • Series: America's Freedoms Series
  • Pages: 402
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Table of Contents

Series Foreword
Preface and Acknowledgments
1 Introduction 1
History 7
The Constitution and the Death Penalty 8
Voices of the Capital Punishment Debate 12
2 Origins and Early Development 29
America in the Era before Independence 29
The Founding Era 39
The Nineteenth Century 47
3 Twentieth-Century Issues 67
Continuity and Change 67
Some Facts 70
Philosophy 74
Dreams 80
From Weems to Furman 87
From Furman to Gregg 104
After Gregg 111
4 Into the Twenty-First Century 139
Unresolved and New Issues for the Death Penalty 139
Penalties Less Than Death 155
Conditions of Confinement 162
5 Key People, Cases, and Events 177
6 Documents 197
Chronology of Capital Punishment 329
Table of Cases 333
App.: Data 339
Annotated Bibliography 349
Index 361
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