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America's Death PenaltyBetween Past and Present$
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David Garland, Randall McGowen, and Michael Meranze

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780814732663

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814732663.001.0001

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Hanging and the English Judges

Hanging and the English Judges

The Judicial Politics of Retention and Abolition

(p.129) 5 Hanging and the English Judges
America's Death Penalty

Douglas Hay

NYU Press

This chapter examines the judicial politics underlying the efforts to retain and abolish capital punishment in England. It considers the connection between executive and legal officials and the operation of the death penalty. In particular, it discusses the changing positions of English judges in relation to capital justice over the past three centuries. It argues that the high judiciary were particularly important in England, first in upholding the death penalty in the face of criticism from the mid-1700s, then in acquiescing in its gradual removal from theft during a long parliamentary campaign for reform in the first half of the nineteenth century, and, finally, in effecting abolition for murder in 1965. The chapter analyzes the extent to which England's employment of death has been mediated by the ideas and conduct of a small number of judges. It argues that legal structures and culture must be taken into account when investigating the operation of the death penalty.

Keywords:   judicial politics, capital punishment, death penalty, judges, capital justice, high judiciary, England, theft, abolition, murder

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