The primary purpose of this volume is to provide a comprehensive source of information on the legal, social, and political history and present status of capital punishment in the U.S. The encyclopedia accomplishes this through the use of A-Z
entries, both brief and extensive, covering almost every capital punishment opinion issued by the U.S. Supreme Court through 1999. In addition there are entries covering each jurisdiction in the U.S. that summarize the relevant death penalty laws as well as provide information on the judicial structure of each jurisdiction. There are also entries for the status of capital punishment in other nations of the world; famous capital prosecutions; organizations that are either pro- or anti-capital punishment; capital punishment in the military; and the impact of capital punishment on minority groups in the U.S.
There is a wealth of statistical data and tables presented within the entries. For instance, in Actual innocence claim, a table shows death row inmates released after proving their innocence, giving name, year convicted, year released, and the state in which they were convicted. The entry Women and capital punishment is also interesting, with charts showing that since 1932 only 35 women have been executed on death row, versus 4,418 men. This entry also discusses the controversy over gender discrimination in capital prosecutions.
A major proportion of the essays deal with Supreme Court death penalty decisions, and each entry for a Supreme Court case follows a prescribed format. The first paragraph provides a case citation, issue presented, and case holding; the second section provides factual and procedural background on the case; the final section provides the opinion of the Court.
Cross-references are used liberally to help the nonspecialist gain access to the many legal issues and terminology. An index also helps to provide access via terms, names, and cases. A two-page bibliography provides sources for additional research and reading.
The author, an attorney and writer on the death penalty, has done an admirable job of documenting a complex and emotional topic. This volume will help public and academic library users cope knowledgeably with the history of and legal issues surrounding capital punishment in America. ABC-CLIO's Encyclopedia of Capital Punishment (1998) offers more historical and international coverage; both titles would be useful in larger collections. RBB
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Crowded with information...substantial reference value...a strong reference tool, recommended. --Choice
Provid[es] the most complete information available on capital punishment in America. Densely packed with easily accessible information, the encyclopedia contains an entry for virtually every capital punishment decision issued by the U.S. Supreme Court…useful…covers newsworthy murder cases resulting in death sentences…essential. --Arba