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Death Penalty: Annotated Bibliography Sample

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Jane Doe
Social Science 104
Professor John Doe
3 April 2018


Topic: Death Penalty.


Annotated Bibliography

Carmical, Casey. “Capital Punishment is Morally Justified.” The Ethics of Capital Punishment. Edited by Christine Watkins. Greenhaven Press, 2011, pp. 89-112.

In this essay, the arguments for death penalty are marshaled. The author begins by asserting that the death penalty is morally justified. Morality is determining between right and wrong, and it is only right to kill someone who has deliberately killed. He further explains that the act of execution is more than revenge, and that the act of killing the killer is done in the most scientific and humane way possible. He then proceeds to make five important points in favor of the death penalty. He then concluded that death penalty is a penalty imposed on a transgressor, and not a murder. The text can be considered for inclusion in the curriculum.

Carrington, Frank. Neither Cruel nor Unusual. Crown Publishing, 1978.

In this book, the author argues that the death penalty is effective as a deterrent and its use justified as retribution as well. Its use is consonant with human morality as well. In this book, Carrington has arranged enough facts to counter the arguments of abolitionists and to quieten the moral qualms of the lay public. There is a popular perception that murder is mostly a crime of passion, but Carrington, through extensive research, proved that most murders are part of another felony attempt, and others are premeditated and planned.

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The only problem with the book is that its prose is ponderous. As such, its use in curriculum would require more support from teachers.

Dieter, Richard C. “Capital Punishment is Too Expensive to Retain.” The Ethics of Capital Punishment. Edited by Christine Watkins. Greenhaven Press, 2011, pp. 34-59.

This essay examines the non-viability of death penalty from social, economic and moral points of view. The author argues that many police officials have rejected the deterrence theory. The second argument against death penalty is that it costs dearly on the State coffers – too much money spent in too few cases. The money can be spent better in other vital areas, and the murderer imprisoned for life without parole. The essay can be considered for inclusion in the curriculum.

Herron, Aundre’ M. “The Death Penalty Does Not Deter Crime.” Crime and Criminals. Edited by James D. Torr and Helen Cothran. Greenhaven Press, 2004, pp. 24-36.

The author begins the argument stating that the death penalty does not bring closure. Further, it is not to be argued for or against, as it is to be seen against priorities, which naturally rule out death penalty, as those who want to impose it, do so by killing. Even if it is sanctioned by the state, it is killing after all. This essay can also be added to the curriculum as a strong case against death penalty.

Mandery, Evan J. Capital Punishment in America: A Balanced Examination. 2nd ed., Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2012.

Death penalty is reviewed in all its aspects in this book. It analyses the long and costly judicial process, including appeals. The lay reader will be forced to introspect and see for oneself, whether one would kill under any circumstances. Chapters begin with a short description of the issue, and proceed to provide information and documented facts to help the reader to make his/her own assessment of the merits.

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The book’s latter part carry essays by well-known experts on the subject like Stephen Nathanson, Hugo Adam Bedau, Michael Radelet, Scott Turow, Carol and Jordan Steiker, and Franklin Zimring. The book is a very balanced examination of capital punishment.

Pojman, Louis A. “In Defense on the Death Penalty.” International Journal of Applied Philosophy, vol. 11, no. 2, 1997, pp. 11-16. PhilPapers, doi: 10.5840/ijap19971124.

In this essay, Pojman quotes philosophers like Plato, Thomas Aquinas, Hobbes, Immanuel Kant, J.S.Mill, Thomas Jefferson, C.S.Lewis and others, in supporting death penalty on the grounds of retribution and deterrence. He goes on to examine the administration of criminal justice in the US with regards to murder and marshals an array of testimonies in support of his original arguments. The language employed is suitable for inclusion in curriculum.

Prejean, Helen. The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions. Vintage, 2006.

In this book, Sister Helen Prejean describes, how two of the five convicts whom she accompanies till their death, were really innocent, and yet were executed. Juries having been blocked from significant evidence, defense lawyers being incompetent, there were many such technical reasons for this miscarriage of justice. The relevance of death penalty comes into serious doubt in the backdrop of such cases. Many innocents may die as victims of human error and incompetence. This book deserves careful study, to reach a humane conclusion in the debate over death penalty.

Taylor Jr., Stuart.“Does the Death Penalty Save innocent Lives?” The National Journal, 31 May 2001. The Univercity of Vermont, Accessed 12 Dec. 2017.

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In this essay, Stuart Taylor Jr. begins his arguments in favor of death penalty because it would prevent future murders by the psychopathic killer, by examining the case of murder convict Timothy McVeigh whose execution even abolitionists agreed to.

However the writer argues that given the wide publicity, the very idea of deterrence would be at risk; he is further discouraged by the statistics of low deterrence. He is, then, buoyed by positive statistics from three Emory University economists, who argued that each execution will prevent at least 18, and at best 28, future murders. He goes on to make further analyses on the relative merits of the costs involved in execution and life imprisonment, and finally concludes that the death penalty is the apt punishment for taking lives. This essay is in layman’s language and easily understood by students.

Turow, Scott. Ultimate Punishment: A Lawyer’s Reflections on Dealing with the Death Penalty. Picador, 2004.

In this book, Turow dwells on his own experiences from the time he was a young lawyer of the prosecution, till he served lately in the Commission constituted by Illinois State to look into the death penalties carried out by the State. The findings of The commission prompted Governor George Ryan to commute death sentences of 164 convicts on his last day in office. Turow comments in between on the history of America’s administration of the death penalty, looks at the pros and cons, takes into consideration the survivors of the victim, and goes behind the figures of the statistics and brings out the human saga. It is a significant text to be included in the curriculum.

Van den Haag, Ernest “Justice, Deterrence and the Death Penalty.” America’s Experiment with Capital Punishment. Edited by James R. Acker, Robert M. Bohm, and Charles S. Lanier. Carolina Academic Press. 2nd ed., 2003, pp. 139-157.

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In his essay, Van den Haag argues that awarding the death penalty first of all follows the principle “to give to everyone what he deserves.” He goes on to define it as a “retribution.” Murder is the gravest of crimes, and deserves death as its penalty, he argues, and underlines this argument by upholding the sanctity of human life. But most important of all, death penalty serves as a powerful deterrence for potential murderers. Van den Haag then goes on analyzing the underlying rationale of the argument for abolition.This essay can be studied seriously for the purpose of understanding the arguments in favour of the death penalty.


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