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The Death Penalty

A Worldwide Perspective

Fourth Edition

Roger Hood CBE QC (Hon) DCL FBA and Carolyn Hoyle

Publication Date - June 2008

ISBN: 9780199228478

350 pages

Retail Price to Students: $70.00

This completely revised and updated fourth edition of the classic study on the death penalty surveys and analyzes the status of the death penalty as a punishment worldwide.


The 4th edition of this authoritative study of the death penalty, now written jointly with Carolyn Hoyle, brings up-to-date developments in the movement to abolish the death penalty worldwide. It draws on Roger Hoods experiences as consultant to the United Nations for the UN Secretary Generals five-yearly surveys of capital punishment and on the latest information from a wide range of non-governmental organizations and academic literature. Not only have many more countries abolished capital punishment but, even amongst those that continue to retain it, the majority have been carrying out fewer executions. Legal challenges to mandatory capital punishment have been successful, as has the pressure to abolish the death penalty for those who commit a capital crime when under the age of 18. This edition has more to say about the prospects that China will restrict and control the number of executions on the road to abolition. Yet, despite such advances, this book reveals many human rights abuses where the death penalty still exists. In some countries a wide range of crimes remain subject to capital punishment and the authorities too often fail to meet the safeguards embodied in international human rights treaties to safeguard those facing the death penalty. There is evidence of police abuse, unfair trials, lack of access to competent defence counsel, excessive periods of time spent in horrible conditions on death row, and public, painful forms of execution. The authors engage with the latest debates on the realities of capital punishment, especially its justification as a uniquely effective deterrent; whether it can ever be administered equitably, without discrimination or error; and what influence relatives of victims should have in sentencing and on the public debate. For the first time, it also discusses the problem of devising an alternative to capital punishment; especially, life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.


  • Fully up-to-date new edition of Roger Hood's renowned study of the death penalty
  • Examines the abolition in the US of the death penalty for offenders who committed murder while under the age of 18, and explores a recent sharp fall in the number of death sentences imposed and executions carried out
  • Explores significant new developments in China, particularly the plan for the People's Supreme Court to review all death sentences

About the Author(s)

Roger Hood, CBE, QC (Hon), PhD, DCL, FBA is Emeritus Professor of Criminology, University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College.

Carolyn Hoyle, D.Phil, is Reader in Criminology at the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford and Fellow of Green College.


"Its rigorous scholarship and the breadth of its coverage are hugely impressive features; its claim to "worldwide" coverage is no idle boast. This can fairly lay claim to being the closest thing to a definitive source-book on this important subject." --Paul Craig, Public Law

"This current edition of the series is an indispensible resource for serious students of the death penalty anywhere. It is also well written and happily devoid of academic pretension. We are long past the era when anyone could argue that trends in other nations are of no importance to domestic death penalty policy, and this is as true in the United States as in the PRC and Rwanda...What Hood and Hoyle provide their readers is a careful sifting of data together with a level of analysis beyond the capacity of resources like Amnesty International." --Punishment & Society 11 (2), 2009

"The prose is polished and eminently readable. The scholarship is what one expects from two top Oxford academics. The book is much more than an update of the third edition. It contains new chapters and develops subjects that were not treated in any detail by Professor Hood in the past. Its message is inspiring and its arguments are devastating. The fourth edition of The Death Penalty, A Worldwide Perspective book belongs in the library of all the readers of this journal." --William A. Schabas, Human Rights Quarterly 2009

"This fourth edition in 2008, takes the work to greater heights of being the last word on a worldwide perspective on the death penalty. No book on the subject gives such up-to-date authentic information on this grim subject." --The Commonwealth Lawyer

Table of Contents

    1. Capital Punishment: An Historical and Conceptual Introduction
    2. The Abolitionist Movement: An International Overview
    3. Abolition and Retention: A Regional and Country Analysis
    4. The Scope and Practice of Capital Punishment
    5. Protecting the Vulnerable from Capital Punishment
    6. Protecting those Accused of Capital Crimes
    7. Questions of Equity and Fairness
    8. The Question of Deterrence
    9. The Role of Public Opinion and of Victim Interests
    10. Doing without Capital Punishment: What Stands in its Place?
    11. Conclusions: The Prospects for World-wide Abolition
    Appendix 1: List of Abolitionist and Retentionist Countries
    Appendix 2: Ratification of International Treaties
    Appendix 3: International Instruments
    Cases Cited

Related Titles

Criminal Justice and Moral Issues
Controversies in Criminal Justice

Controversies in Criminal Justice: Contemporary Readings

Scott H. Decker, Leanne Fiftal Alarid, and Charles M. Katz

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