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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76497 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Question of Capital Punishment
Author(s): S Nicolai; K Riley; R Christensen; P Stych; L Greunke
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 133
Sponsoring Agency: Contact, Inc
Lincoln, NE 68501
National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Sale Source: Contact, Inc
P.O. Box 81826
Lincoln, NE 68501
United States of America

National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Type: Historical Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This book provides a comprehensive overview of capital punishment -- its history, State laws, execution methods, costs, and other controversial issues involving the death penalty.
Abstract: A brief review of capital punishment in the United States begins by listing all crimes punishable by death in colonial America and then traces the movement to narrow offenses punishable by death and abolish capital punishment. Court decisions which had a significant impact on these trends are summarized. The capital punishment statutes of Georgia, Florida, and Texas are outlined because they have been upheld by the Supreme Court and are being used as models by other States to reenact death penalty laws. Also discussed are the death penalty laws passed in 1978 and 1979 which specify aggravating circumstances that must be considered before the death penalty can be imposed. Statistics on death sentences, executions, and characteristics of death row prisoners are given for 1978 and 1979. A survey of individual States contains data on capital punishment laws, execution procedures, numbers of executions, characteristics of death row inmates, cases litigated, and programs for inmates on death row. The description of execution methods covers electrocution, gas, hanging, firing squad, and lethal injection. Profiles of death row inmates are accompanied by comments from condemned prisoners on prison conditions and psychological pressures. Trends in capital punishment throughout the world are described. Quotations from inmates, criminal justice professionals, and advocacy groups illustrate attitudes toward capital punishment. Results of public opinion polls and jury studies are also presented. An assessment of cost factors considers actual per diem costs of death row as well as the deterrent effect of capital punishment. Life sentences without parole are examined as an alternative to the death penalty. The book concludes that historically the urge to put offenders to death seems to increase in times of social insecurity and that legislation calling for the death penalty is now on the rise. Sources of information on capital punishment and over 200 references are provided, along with a glossary. Photographs, charts, and quotations are used extensively throughout the text.
Index Term(s): Capital punishment; Death row inmates; Deterrence; Inmate attitudes; Judicial decisions; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Racial discrimination; Sentencing disparity; State laws
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