The Death Penalty: Debating the Moral, Legal, and Political Issues

Overview

This collection of authoritative essays by noted professionals in law, psychology, civil rights, and journalism addresses vitally important questions at the center of the debate over capital punishment in thoughtful yet compelling ways.

The heart of the book consists of edited excerpts from two recent, controversial decisions by the United States Supreme Court. In both cases, the Eighth Amendment plays a decisive role. In the first case, Baez v. Rees, the Court affirms a ...

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Overview

This collection of authoritative essays by noted professionals in law, psychology, civil rights, and journalism addresses vitally important questions at the center of the debate over capital punishment in thoughtful yet compelling ways.

The heart of the book consists of edited excerpts from two recent, controversial decisions by the United States Supreme Court. In both cases, the Eighth Amendment plays a decisive role. In the first case, Baez v. Rees, the Court affirms a lower court decision that the method of capital punishment used in most states—lethal injection—does not violate the Eighth Amendment. In the second case, Kennedy v. Louisiana, the ruling majority concludes that a death sentence for the crime of raping a child, even when that rape is violent, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, so long as the child does not die. The contributors also consider the effect of modern DNA evidence on invoking the death penalty, especially since this new technology has led to the exoneration of several death-row inmates and consequently has raised doubts about the ability of the legal system to protect innocent defendants.

This compelling and insightful volume concludes with an examination of the evidence for racial bias implicit in the disproportionate number of black prisoners sentenced to death.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591027607
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 7/27/2010
  • Pages: 379
  • Sales rank: 1,302,948
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert M. Baird (Waco, TX) is a professor and the former chair of the philosophy department at Baylor University. He is editor with Stuart E. Rosenbaum of Prometheus’s Contemporary Issues series.

Stuart E. Rosenbaum (Waco, TX) is a professor of philosophy at Baylor University. He is editor with Robert M. Baird of Prometheus’s Contemporary Issues series, and is the editor of Pragmatism and Religion.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 9

Part 1 Capital Punishment: History and Current Status

1 History of the Death Penalty 21

Death Penalty Information Center

2 Death Sentences and Executions in 2008: Summary Report 37

Amnesty International

3 Number of Executions as of May 20, 2011, by State Since 1976 41

Death Penalty Information Center

Part 2 Capital Punishment: Why? Why Not?

4 The Morality of Anger Walter Berns 45

5 Execution Is Inherently Inhumane, Unfairly Applied, and Ineffective in Deterring Crime Mahua Das 57

6 Trial by Fire: Did Texas Execute an Innocent Man? David Grann 65

Part 3 Capital Punishment and Lethal Injection

7 A Guilty Man [and the History of Lethal Injection] Vince Beiser 107

8 Baze-d and Confused: What's the Deal with Lethal Injection? A Debate Alison J. Nathan Douglas A. Berman 113

9 Baze v. Rees, Supreme Court of the United States, April 16, 2008 131

Chief Justice John Roberts

10 Baze v. Rees 147

Justice Ruth Ginsburg, Dissenting;

Justice David Souter Joining

11 Baze v. Rees 155

Justice John Paul Stevens, Concurring

12 Baze v. Rees 161

Justice Antonin Scalia, Concurring;

Justice Clarence Thomas, Joining

13 Baze v. Rees 167

Justice Stephen Breyer, Concurring

14 Baze v. Rees 173

Justice Clarence Thomas, Concurring;

Justice Antonin Scalia, Joining

Part 4 Capital Punishment and the Rape of Children

15 Kennedy v. Louisiana, Supreme Court of the United States, June 25, 2008 179

Justice Anthony Kennedy

16 Kennedy v. Louisiana 201

Justice Samuel Alito, Dissenting

17 The Supreme Court Is Wrong on the Death Penalty Laurence H. Tribe 215

18 The Death Penalty: Unwise for Child Rape Vivian Berger 219

19 The Arguments in Favor of, and against, the Death Penalty for Child Rape Marci Hamilton 223

20 Engaging Capital Emotions Douglas A. Berman Stephanos Bibas 227

21 Child Rape, Moral Outrage, and the Death Penalty Susan A. Bandes 237

Part 5 Capital Punishment and DNA

22 The Kirk Bloodsworth Story 251

The Justice Project

23 Life after DNA Exoneration Megan Feldman 255

24 Death and Innocence: Capital Punishment Is on the Decline, Largely Because of DNA Testing and Its Ramifications for the Legal System Gregg Sangillo 269

25 Death and Harmless Error: A Rhetorical Response to Judging Innocence Colin Starger 279

26 Testimony of Barry C. Scheck before the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment 287

Part 6 Capital Punishment and Racism

27 Of the Coming of John W. E. B. Du Bois 311

28 The Persistent Problem of Racial Disparities in the Federal Death Penalty 325

A Report of the American Civil Liberties Union

29 Georgia's Racist Death Penalty Heather Gray 333

30 Looking Deathworthy: Perceived Stereotypicality of Black Defendants Predicts Capital-Sentencing Outcomes Jennifer L. Eberhardt Paul G. Davies Valerie J. Purdie-Vaughns Sheri Lynn Johnson 339

Notes 347

Contributors 371

Sources and Permissions 375

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