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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 97219 Find in a Library
Title: Death Penalty - Crime File Series
Corporate Author: Police Foundation
United States of America
Date Published: 1984
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
Washington, DC 20531
National Institute of Justice/NCJRS
Rockville, MD 20850
Police Foundation
Washington, DC 20036
US Dept of Justice NIJ Pub
Washington, DC 20531
Grant Number: 84-IJ-CX-0031
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/NCJRS
Audiovisual Sales
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20850
United States of America
Document: PDF (Study Guide)
Format: Video (Online)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This video cassette, number 7 in the Crime File series, briefly reviews the history of the use of the death penalty in the United States and delineates issues in the debate about its use; two panelists with opposing view on capital punishment argue their positions.
Abstract: The moderator's brief historical review of the use of the death penalty in the United States notes its increasing use since the execution of Gary Gilmore in 1977 and the public's rising support for it. Panelist Ernest van den Haag of Fordham University argues that justice demands that the person who commits a particularly heinous murder (premeditated murder, multiple murders, or torture murder) should be executed, regardless of the deterrent effect. Although acknowledging the risk that an innocent person might be executed, van den Haag does not consider this sufficient reason to abandon the justice argument for the death penalty. David Bruck of the Coalition Against the Death Penalty opposes capital punishment because of the tortuous execution process (waiting in a cell until the appointed time to die) and the capricious and discriminatory way in which persons are selected for execution. Van den Haag counters by arguing that the unequal and discriminatory application of the death penalty does not undermine the justice rationale for it use. Rather it points up the need for steps to ensure that only and all those who deserve it receive it. Bruck accepts life imprisonment without the possibility of parole as a cost-effective alternative to the death penalty; van den Haag rejects this as an alternative, because life imprisonment does not have the irrevocable character of capital punishment.
Index Term(s): Capital punishment; Deterrence effectiveness; Life sentences; Racial discrimination; Sentencing disparity; Videotapes
Note: Videocassette (3/4 inch, Beta, and VHS), 28 minutes in length, color.
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