Does the possibility of being put to death deter crime? Do the methods of execution matter? Is it possible for a state-ordered execution to be botched? Are innocent people ever sent to death row? Are there racial biases or other prejudices associated with the death penalty? This book examines the history of capital punishment in the United States; describes the significant issues, events, and cases; and addresses the controversies and legal issues surrounding capital punishment, making this important topic accessible to a wide range of readers.
The book presents both sides of the argument on whether capital punishment should continue or be abolished, looking at the evidence regarding whether it is necessary for carrying out justice and deterring violent crime or whether the practice is inhumane, ineffective, biased in its application, and costly. Readers will gain insights into how capital punishment should be used, if at all; whether effective safeguards are in place to ensure that only the guilty receive the death penalty; what crimes deserve this sentence; whether juveniles or individuals with diminished mental capacity should ever be sentenced to death; potentially viable alternatives to the death penalty; and the hidden costs involved in our capital punishment system that make it so expensive. The book also contains primary documents relevant to capital punishment, such as excerpts from documents like the U.S. Constitution, the Hittite case laws, and the Code of Hammurabi, as well as descriptions of and excerpts from key cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.