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When the State Kills: Capital Punishment and the American Condition. 1st Edition
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From Library Journal
Sarat (political science, Amherst Coll.; The Killing State: Capital Punishment in Law, Politics, and Culture) makes a persuasive argument here for the abolition of the death penalty. Unlike Hugo Adam Bedau's more comprehensive The Death Penalty in America: Current Controversies (LJ 3/15/97), this volume does not attempt to present both sides or analyze the imposition of the penalty. The author's belief is that the death penalty harms our democracy by promoting vengeance and racial divisions. By placing crime victims foremost, he says, the state ignores the underlying causes of crime. He argues that DNA testing both exposes the failures of the criminal justice system and gives politicians a way to accept abolition of the death penalty. Using gruesome photos of executions, detailed discussions of the death penalty in the movies, and interviews with jurors and attorneys, Sarat illustrates his points. The book is not easy to read, but the author's sophisticated analysis makes it worthwhile. For specialized collections. Harry Charles, Attorney at Law, St. Louis
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Law professor Sarat's analysis of the controversies surrounding capital punishment is both broad and deep. He cites convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh as the "living, breathing endorsement of capital punishment," but he more closely examines the type of cases that raise troubling questions about the appropriateness of state-sanctioned killing. He looks at convictions overturned because of advancements in evidence gathering; the disproportionate number of black men who are executed; and the general demonizing of young black men. Equally pernicious by his lights are the politics that make capital punishment play a "major and dangerous role in the modern economy of power." Sarat discusses the ethical issues of vengeance versus punishment and whether capital punishment is compatible with democracy. Drawing on interviews of more than 40 death penalty lawyers, he explores the legal issues of adequate representation and recent moves to reduce the appeals process. He also looks at how capital punishment has influenced American culture through such movies as Dead Man Walking and The Green Mile. Vanessa Bush
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