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Against the Death Penalty:
An Annotated Bibliography
Ericka Criner
Academic affiliation: Oklahoma State University
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Bedau, Hugo. "The Minimal Invasion Argument Against the Death Penalty." Criminal Justice Ethics 21.2 (2002): 3-8. The minimal invasion argument amount to declaring the death penalty fails to satisfy a necessary condition of justified punishment. To abolitionist of the death penalty "violates the offenders right to life, the State has no right to kill any of its prisoners, it is an affront to human dignity, and risky" (3). The minimal invasion principle argues the governments ability to invade an "individuals privacy, liberty, and autonomy" is not justified (4). The principle also states the death penalty is worse than imprisonment without parole. The argument of the minimal invasion principle concludes the death penalty is not right and should be used only if there is no other option. The principle provides an excellent explanation of why the death penalty should not be allowed.

Blackmun, Harry. "The Death Penalty Is Legally Unjust." The Death Penalty: Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. Paul Winters. San Diego: Greenhaven P., 1997. 66-71 "The attempt to consistently impose the death penalty for the most crimes conflicts with the requirement to consider every case individually and because these two legal principles cannot be reconciled, capital punishment should be abandoned" (66). Although it has been a long period of time since the Court declared the death penalty is used fairly, "the death penalty remains fraught with arbitrariness, discrimination, caprice, and mistake" (67). The death penalty is also legally unjust because the judges and juries make the decision of who dies or not. Some states tried to justify the use of the death penalty, by reserving it for those who commit crimes that are "especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel" (70). The author concludes that fairness and consistency cannot be balanced when using the death penalty, "evitable defies the rationality and consistency required by the Constitution" (71). The information of why the death penalty is legally unjust can be useful to the general public when deciding to support or oppose the death penalty.

Buffington- Vollum, Jacqueline, Dennis Longmire, and Scott Vollum. "Confidence in the Death Penalty and Support For Its Use: Exploring the Value- Expressive Dimension of Death Penalty Attitudes." Justice Quarterly 21.3 (2003): 521-47. "Although a majority of respondents support the death penalty, a substantial portion lack confidence in its use and support a moratorium on executions" (521). Questions are being raised about "innocence, fair trials, and equitable access to legal representation" (522). These issues are being raised especially in Texas. It is also shown in Texas, the lack of knowledge about the death penalty causes people to not support it. And if people are given the option to choose from the death penalty and life without parole, people tend to oppose to the death penalty and support long-term imprisonment without parole. The scope of research allows the public to know the confidence in the death penalty is not strong, but proves extremely useful to why capital punishment should be reevaluated.

Davis, Michael. "A Sound Retributive Argument for the Death Penalty." Criminal Justice Ethics 18.2 (2002): 22-26. "If it is sound, the death penalty can be justified retributively" (22). The author argues against Claire Finkelstein's primary conclusion that "retributive fails to justify the use of the death as punishment (22). While Finkelstein is clearly against the death penalty, Davis is for it. He gives evidence to justify the death penalty and why torture is inhumane, he says "the reason why we cannot justify the use of torture instead of the death penalty is, of course that torture has been struck from the list of available penalties; it is inhumane" (23). The author presents a weak argument, but provides information of why the torture is inhumane and the death penalty is not.

Farrell, Michael. Death Penalty Focus. 14 October 2004 <http://www.deathpenalty.org/index.php?pid=facts>. The information provides a variety of reasons of why the death penalty should abolished. The justice system holds the idea that executing people for crimes will be discourage others from committing a crime, but that is not true. Therefore, capital punishment is not a deterrent. The facts show that the death penalty is not always correct and does discriminate. Since the reinstatement of capital punishment, "114 men and women have been released from Death Row…some only minutes away from executions" (Death Penalty Focus). The statistics show that the death penalty does discriminate, "the race of the victim was found to influence the likelihood of being charged with capital punishment or receiving the death penalty" (Death Penalty Focus). The research gives useful facts to the general public about the death penalty.

Finkelstein, Claire. "Death and Retribution." Criminal Justice Ethics 21.2 (2002): 12-20. To the author, "the faith that death penalty proponents place in the retributivist theory of punishment is the concept of punishing a criminal because of his wrongful act done to another person. The author argues that "the death penalty is morally impermissible" and it is hard to "justify it on the basis of deterrence alone" (12); however, torture can be justifies. She believes that torture is morally impermissible and less severe than death. Even though the article is hard to understand, the author presents a well informative article of why torture or life imprisonment is justified and the death penalty is not.

Foley, Michael A. "Toward Understanding the Death Penalty Debate." Choice 42.2 (2004): 215-221. "The following recommendation serves to guide the lay reader through the vast literature available on this emotionally charged topic" (215). In, 1972 after the Furman v. Georgia case, the Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional. However four years later in 1976, after the Gregg v. Georgia case, the Supreme Court declared the death penalty constitutional. Since the 1976, there has been controversy about the death penalty. Polls say that the vast majority of population agrees with the death penalty, but when life without parole is an option the support for the death penalty declines. Not only have there been arguments about whether the death penalty is constitutional or not, but whether people with mental retardation should be executed. In 2002, during in the case of Atkins v. Virginia, the Supreme Court ruled the execution of mentally retarded is unconstitutional. The article also presents history about the death penalty, a philosophical debate, the Christian perspective, and other significant information about capital punishment.

Haag, Ernest van den. "Why Capital Punishment?" The Leviathan's Choice: Capital Punishment in the 21st Century. Martinez, Michael, William Richardson, and D. Brandon Hornsby, eds. Lanhan: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Inc., 2002. 29-39 "Unlike natural death, capital punishment needs moral justification" (31). Despite the fact that capital punishment exist, people voluntarily commit murder; therefore, they should be punished with the death penalty. The lex talionis argues "that if we do to the criminal what he did to his victim, we are wrong as he was", but this argument "overlooks that murder is a crime, an unlawful taking of life, while punishment is lawful, and capital punishment is a lawful taking of life" (34). Studies show that a vast majority of people will agree with life imprisonment without parole instead of the death penalty which prevents convicts from committing crimes in the human community, but "convicts can (and do) commit crimes with prison, assaulting, raping, and even killing fellow inmates and guards" (35). The article covers a wide scope, providing a useful argument for why the death penalty still exists.

Radelet, Michael and Ronald Akers. "Deterrence and the Death Penalty: The Views of the Experts." The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 87.1 (1996): 1-16. "It is clear that there are few issues on which more Americans agree: in at least some circumstances, death is seen as a justifiable punishment" (1). Supporters of the death penalty believe that if a person commits a murder they should die. Other supporters believe that the death penalty should be used in hope to discourage others from committing capital crimes. As shown in different research about the death penalty, the percentage of people whom agree with the death penalty decreases when the option of life without parole is available. Through this particular study it is obvious "that the death penalty does, and can do, little to reduce rates of criminal violence" (10). The content of the article provides valuable information for those researching the general public's opinion about the death penalty.

Vidmar, Neil and Phoebe Ellsworth. "Public Opinion and the Death Penalty." Stanford Law Review 26.6 (1974): 1245-270. "The major thesis of the article is that merely noting general levels of support for or against capital punishment will not necessarily give us the kind of information needed to judge what the public really wants with the death penalty, or whether those wants are based on constitutionally acceptable standards of morality" (1247). During the 1960s, more than half of the American population supported the death penalty. Supporters of the death penalty only agreed with it under certain circumstances. They took age and the crime committed into consideration. People for capital punishment are usually "older, less educated, male, wealthier, white, and from urban areas" (1253). Supporters of capital punishment also vary among religion and political standpoints. Although dated, the information covers key issues about the public's opinion and research on why people support and/or oppose to the death penalty.

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