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NCJ Number: 128451 Find in a Library
Title: Reflections on "Modern" Death Sentencing Systems
Journal: Criminal Law Forum  Volume:1  Issue:1  Dated:(Autumn 1989)  Pages:185-203
Author(s): D C Baldus; C A Pulaski Jr; G Woodworth
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 19
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article reviews two books -- "Death is Different," by Hugo Bedau, and "The Death Penalty in the Eighties," by Welsh White -- which describe and assess the legal developments that have transformed the U.S. death-sentencing system over the last 20 years, with attention to the U.S. Supreme Court's new death penalty jurisprudence.
Abstract: Although the two books differ in keeping with the interests and expertise of their authors, both contribute to the literature and in many respects complement one another. Both trace and analyze the evolution of the pre-1970's death-sentencing process into the new, judicially dominated system of the 1970's and 1980's. Both books address the consequences of replacing State legislatures and governors with State and Federal judges as the principal overseers of the system. Both authors document the enormous and unanticipated complexity of this judicial undertaking. They also illustrate the difficulties of attempting to resolve, through a process oriented to principled adjudication, severe societal conflicts that would be better accommodated by the political process and piecemeal compromise. The experience of the last 20 years, as summarized in these two books, suggests that so long as the U.S. Supreme Court's membership continues to reflect societal divisions on the death-penalty, decisions based upon expediency and political compromise will continue to characterize the Court's jurisprudence in the foreseeable future. 27 footnotes
Main Term(s): Capital punishment
Index Term(s): Appeal procedures; US Supreme Court decisions
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