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NCJ Number: 210385 Find in a Library
Title: Seduction of Innocence: The Attraction and Limitations of the Focus on Innocence in Capital Punishment Law and Advocacy
Journal: Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology  Volume:95  Issue:2  Dated:Winter 2005  Pages:587-624
Author(s): Carol S. Steiker; Jordan M. Steiker
Date Published: 2005
Page Count: 38
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper questions the widespread assumption that the execution of the "innocent" is both the worst problem in the current administration of capital punishment and the best strategic issue in fueling the reform or abolition of the death penalty in America.
Abstract: Part I offers an explanation for why the issue of convictions of innocent persons in capital cases has become so prominent in the current debate over the death penalty compared to the low priority given this issue in the debate in the 1960s and 1970s. The authors offer the explanation that the focus on innocence as a tactic for building support for the abolition of the death penalty is rooted in the belief that the harm of punishing innocents resonates with the public because most Americans can empathize with the harms they fear could happen to themselves, rather than those that happen only to "bad people." Part II questions the normative distinctiveness of innocence as a priority problem in the administration of capital punishment compared with other more endemic problems, such as disproportionate, arbitrary, or discriminatory imposition of the death penalty. Part III questions the strategic value of focusing on innocence as the prime mover toward the reform or abolition of capital punishment. 134 notes
Main Term(s): Court reform
Index Term(s): Abolishment of capital punishment; Capital punishment; Sentencing reform
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