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The Road to Abolition?The Future of Capital Punishment in the United States$
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Charles J. Jr. Ogletree and Austin Sarat

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780814762172

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814762172.001.0001

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The Executioner’s Waning Defenses

The Executioner’s Waning Defenses

(p.19) 1 The Executioner’s Waning Defenses
The Road to Abolition?

Michael L. Radelet

NYU Press

This chapter examines what seems to be a national reconsideration of capital punishment in the United States as its opponents continue to score significant victories while proponents of executions are increasingly on the defense. It considers subtle changes in the discourse about executions and how progress toward abolition has accelerated since the early 1980s as a result of a shift in public opinion on capital punishment. It cites empirical data refuting traditional pro-death penalty arguments, such as deterrence, cost savings, and incapacitation. It also discusses conservative arguments in favor of the abolition of death penalty as well as the use of retribution as a defense by those in support of executions. Finally, it rejects claims that the death penalty can be applied equitably, without racial bias, and only to the guilty. The chapter predicts that the death penalty will be abolished within the next twenty-five years.

Keywords:   capital punishment, United States, execution, public opinion, deterrence, incapacitation, abolition of death penalty, retribution, death penalty, racial bias

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