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Capital Punishment

Theory and Practice of the Ultimate Penalty

Virginia Leigh Hatch and Anthony Walsh

Publication Date - 27 November 2015

ISBN: 9780190212681

368 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

An engaging, balanced look at the death penalty, with unique chapters on the use of DNA and the human desire to punish


Capital Punishment: Theory and Practice of the Ultimate Penalty is a fair, balanced, and accessible introduction to the greatest moral issue facing the American criminal justice system today. Opening with a unique chapter that outlines the philosophical and theoretical explanations for punishment and its relevance to the death-penalty debate, the authors then explore the wide array of topics in the field.

The text covers the history of the death penalty in the U.S. from colonial times to the present day; the relevant landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases from Furman v. Georgia (1972) onwards; the history of public opinion and how it shapes the debate on capital punishment; the history of U.S. execution methods; deterrence; racial disparity in the application of the death penalty; wrongful convictions; the costs associated with capital punishment; and federal, military, and international death penalties.


Incorporates "Perspectives from the Field" boxes in most chapters that add valuable insights from people who have been personally involved in capital cases, including a judge, a prosecutor, a neuroscientist, a former death-row resident, and other key practitioners in the field

Explores the process by which "hard" science (DNA) is used to address exoneration and mitigation, in terms that are understandable to students

Includes an in-depth discussion of why we punish wrongdoers, examining why our urge to punish is so strong

An open-access Companion Website provides chapter outlines, chapter learning objectives, sample quiz/exam questions, and links to helpful websites

About the Author(s)

Virginia Leigh Hatch is Lecturer in Criminal Justice at Boise State University, where she teaches a variety of classes including Law and Justice and The Death Penalty in America.

Anthony Walsh is Professor of Criminal Justice at Boise State University, where he teaches criminology, law, and statistics.


"Capital Punishment provides the most thorough overview and evaluation of the death penalty available today. Rather than focusing on advocacy, the authors emphasize science--what do we really know about the death penalty? Everyone has an opinion about it, but Hatch and Walsh have the facts. They are fair and balanced in their examination of the greatest moral issue facing the criminal justice system today. Students and scholars of the death penalty will be well served by this outstanding text."--Craig Hemmens, Washington State University

"Capital Punishment is a well-written, up-to-date text that is accessible to an undergraduate audience. It is innovative in bringing in information on modern scientific methods relevant to the death penalty and also in zeroing in on nations that use capital punishment the most."--Kevin Minor, Eastern Kentucky University

Table of Contents

    Chapter 1. Why Do We Punish: The Origin and Purpose of Punishment
    The Evolutionary Origins of Punishment
    Religion, Emotion, Social Order, and Punishment
    The Co-Evolution of Punishment and Social Cooperation
    Second- and Third-Party Punishment
    From Primitive Vengeance to Modern Law
    The Assumptions about Human Nature and Punishment Justifications
    Free Will, Determinism, and the Law
    Punishment Justifications
    Kantian Retribution: The Major Justification of Capital Punishment
    --Retribution and Emotion
    --Reconciliation and Reintegration
    Chapter 2. History of the Death Penalty in the United States: Past and Present
    Capital Punishment in Antiquity
    The History of the Death Penalty in America
    Pre-Modern Era/Pre-Furman
    --Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries
    --Nineteenth Century/Abolitionist Movement
    --Twentieth Century/Pre-Furman
    --Furman v. Georgia (1972)
    Modern Era/Post-Furman
    Chapter 3. The Foundational Cases: Furman to Stanford
    Furman v. Georgia (1972)
    Gregg v. Georgia (1976)
    Coker v. Georgia (1977)
    Lockett v. Ohio (1978)
    McClesky v. Kemp (1987)
    Stanford v. Kentucky (1989)
    Chapter 4. The Foundational Cases: Atkins to Baze
    Atkins v. Virginia (2002)
    Ring v. Arizona (2002)
    Roper v. Simmons (2005)
    Baze and Bowling v. Reez (2008)
    Chapter 5. The Death Penalty and Public Opinion
    The Ups and Downs of Public Opinion
    The Ways that Public Support Maintains the Death Penalty
    Attitudinal Model and Political Adjustment Hypothesis
    Expression of Public Opinion
    The Marshall Hypothesis
    Global Perspectives on the Death Penalty
    Chapter 6. Methods of Execution
    The Evolution of Execution Methods
    Gas Chamber
    Firing Squad
    Lethal Injection
    --Three- vs. One-Drug Injection
    --Drug Availability
    Last Words and Last Meals
    Chapter 7. Deterrence and the Death Penalty
    The Assumptions of Deterrence Theory
    Specific and General Deterrence
    Three Principles of Punishment
    The Death Penalty/Deterrence Debate
    Deterrence: Criminologists and Sociologists versus Economists
    Does Capital Punishment Have a Brutalizing Effect?
    The Inconclusive Conclusion of the Committee on Deterrence and the Death Penalty
    What Is Needed to Demonstrate if the Death Penalty Is a Deterrent?
    The Opinions of Criminologists and Police Chiefs on the Death Penalty
    Pascal's Wager: A "Last Ditch" Effort
    Chapter 8. The Death Penalty and Special Populations: Race, Gender, Age, and Mental Capacity
    Race and the Death Penalty
    Racial Disproportionality in Capital Punishment
    The Issue of Victim's Race
    Dueling Statisticians Redux
    Juveniles and the Death Penalty
    Women and the Death Penalty
    Women Executed Since 1976
    The Chivalry Explanation in Female Capital Cases
    The Evil Woman Explanation in Female Capital Cases
    The Death Penalty and Mental Illness
    Mental Disability
    Mental Illness
    Chapter 9. Modern Science and the Death Penalty
    Exoneration and Mitigation
    The Innocence Revolution
    Science, Agency, Genes and Culpability
    What Are Genes and How Do They Make Us Different?
    DNA "Fingerprinting" in a Nutshell
    Brain Imaging in a Nutshell
    Brain Imaging and the Abolition of the Juvenile Death Penalty
    Some Problems with DNA Testing to Consider
    Some Problems with fMRI to Consider
    Chapter 10. Wrongful Convictions and Death Penalty
    Exoneration and Factual Innocence
    Due Process versus Crime Control Models of Criminal Justice Systems
    The Blackstone Ratio
    The "Big Six"
    Eyewitness Misidentification
    False Confessions
    Informant/Snitch Testimony
    Bad Science
    Ineffective Defense Counsel
    Government Misconduct
    Post-Exoneration Compensation
    Chapter 11. The Financial Burden of the Death Penalty and Other Collateral Costs
    Death Penalty: A Yellow Brick Road
    The Timothy McVeigh Federal Murder Trial
    The Financial Burden of the Death Penalty
    The Financial Cost of Court Proceedings: Death Penalty versus LWOP
    Court Costs
    Expert Witnesses
    Habeas Corpus Petition versus Direct Appeal
    Introduction of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
    All Bark and Little Bite
    Collateral Costs: Victims' and Defendants' Families
    Chapter 12. The Death Penalty: The Federal, Military, and International Perspective
    Why Does the United States Retain the Death Penalty?
    Federal Death Penalty
    The U.S. Military Death Penalty
    The U.S. Military's Current Death Row Population
    The Death Penalty on the International Stage
    The Death Penalty in the Communist World
    People's Republic of China
    Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea)
    The Death Penalty in the Islamic World
    Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
    Islamic Republic of Iran
    Republic of Iraq
    Libby the Liberal and Conrad the Conservative Debate the Death Penalty

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