Both sides of the highly charged capital punishment debate in the United States are examined in this breakthrough collection of 112 key documents, arranged by historical period. The political and social aspects of the debate are represented through a wide range of documents, including congressional hearings, Supreme Court decisions, position papers, biographical accounts, and news stories. An explanatory introduction precedes each document to help readers understand how various and seemingly unrelated social, ecomic, and political factors have impacted public attitudes, legislation, and judicial decisions pertaining to capital punishment. Vila and Morris provide us with the historical and ecological framework in which this centuries-old debate has unfolded. This volume is organized into six parts, each one representing a different time period: Colonial Era to Independence, 1800-1917, 1918-1959, 1960-1976, 1977-1989, and the 1990s. The documents provided in each part trace the history and development of the debate, chronicling the ebb and flow of support for the death penalty during different periods in our country's history. Special attention is paid to the effects of particular events in history-the American Revolution, the Great Depression, and the Civil Rights movement, for example-on the ever-changing opinions concerning capital punishment. The representation of both sides of the debate found in these documents will encourage and challenge students, policymakers, and concerned citizens to examine their own viewpoints and draw their own conclusions on the capital punishment debate.
BRYAN VILA is Associate Professor in the Administration of Justice Program at the University of Wyoming. Prior to becoming an academic, Dr. Vila spent seventeen years in local, national, and international law enforcement. CYNTHIA MORRIS is a freelance writer based in Irvine, California. From 1985 to 1995, she was a research and science writer at the University of California, Irvine. She currently is working with Dr. Vila on a second book in Greenwood's Documentary History Series, and on a novel, Micronesian Blues.
Bryan Vila, Cynthia Morris
Date of Publication
Social Issues, Services & Welfare
Primary Documents in American History & Contemporary Issues