9780195178203

The Contradictions of American Capital Punishment

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780195178203

  • ISBN10:

    0195178203

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2004-11-18
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Summary

Why does the United States continue to employ the death penalty when fifty other developed democracies have abolished it? Why does capital punishment become more problematic each year? How can the death penalty conflict be resolved? In The Contradictions of American Capital Punishment, Frank Zimring reveals that the seemingly insoluble turmoil surrounding the death penalty reflects a deep and long-standing division in American values, a division that he predicts will soon bring about the end of capital punishment in ourcountry. On the one hand, execution would seem to violate our nation's highest legal principles of fairness and due process. It sets us increasingly apart from our allies and indeed is regarded by European nations as a barbaric and particularly egregious form of American exceptionalism. On theother hand, the death penalty represents a deeply held American belief in violent social justice that sees the hangman as an agent of local control and safeguard of community values. Zimring uncovers the most troubling symptom of this attraction to vigilante justice in the lynch mob. He shows thatthe great majority of executions in recent decades have occurred in precisely those Southern states where lynchings were most common a hundred years ago. It is this legacy, Zimring suggests, that constitutes both the distinctive appeal of the death penalty in the United States and one of the mostcompelling reasons for abolishing it. Impeccably researched and engagingly written, Contradictions in American Capital Punishment casts a clear new light on America's long and troubled embrace of the death penalty.

Author Biography


Franklin E. Zimring is the William G. Simon Professor of Law and Chair of the Criminal Justice Research Program at the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of Crime Is Not the Problem and American Youth Violence.

Table of Contents

Preface ix
Acknowledgments xi
I. Divergent Trends
1(64)
The Peculiar Present of American Capital Punishment
3(13)
More Than a Trend: Abolition in the Developed Nations
16(26)
The Symbolic Transformation of American Capital Punishment
42(23)
II. Explaining the American Difference
65(76)
Federalism and Its Discontents
67(22)
The Vigilante Tradition and Modern Executions
89(30)
The Consequences of Contradictory Values
119(22)
III. Capital Punishment in the American Future
141(66)
The No-Win 1990s
143(36)
The Beginning of the End
179(28)
Appendix A: Statistical Materials on Lynchings and Executions 207(6)
Appendix B: Reported Frequencies of National Death Penalty Policy, 1980 to 2001 213(14)
Appendix C: Death Row and Execution Statistics 227(2)
Appendix D: New Survey Analysis Materials 229(8)
Appendix E: Justified Killings by Citizens and Police, by State 237(4)
Appendix F: Review of Death Penalty Exoneration Data from the Death Penalty Information Center 241(2)
References 243(8)
Index 251

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