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Capital Punishment

A Guide to Selected Government Information Available at WIU's Government Publications Library


Web version of this guide includes links to web resources.


Federal Government Information
Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics

Provides a wealth of detailed statistics regarding executions and prisoners under sentence of death. Some public opinion statistics, reflecting attitude toward the death penalty, are also given. annual
J 29.9/6:(yr.); http://www.albany.edu/sourcebook/ latest edition at 4th floor desk

Capital Punishment Statistics

This Bureau of Justice Statistics website offers access to summary findings, statistics, and BJS publications. Tables and spreadsheets organize detailed data on prisoners and executions in the United States from 1930 to present.
http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbse&sid=1

Death Penalty Reform Act of 2006

This hearing considers a bill that's purpose is supposedly to codify Atkins v. Virginia, a case in which the Supreme Court ruled that mentally retarded persons can not be executed. The bill, however, also includes provisions making more criminal cases eligible for the death penalty. 2006
Y 4.J 89/1:109-93, http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS71560

Streamlined Procedures Act of 2005

This hearing reviews a bill that purports to streamline the Federal habeas corpus petition process in death penalty cases, but instead virtually eliminates the process altogether, greatly increasing the probability of innocent people being put to death. 2005
Y 4.J 89/1:109-82, http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS69825

Reducing the Risk of Executing the Innocent: the Report of the Illinois Governor’s Commission on Capital Punishment

This hearing discusses the fact-finding and recommendations of Governor Ryan's commission. 2002
Y 4.J 89/2:S.HRG.107-907

Protecting the Innocent: Proposals to Reform the Death Penalty

This hearing discusses the problems under-lying our broken capital system and some interesting ideas on how to fix it. 2002
Y 4.J 89/2:S.HRG.107-917

Illinois Information
[Final] Report of the Governor’s Commission on Capital Punishment

This report discusses problems with Illinois death penalty jurisprudence and offers some ideas to reduce wrongful prosecutions and convictions. 2002
ILLINOIS.364.66 I29cp Final 2002, http://www.idoc.state.il.us/ccp/ccp/reports/commission_report/index.html

Report of the Governor’s Commission on Capital Punishment - Technical Appendix

This volume contains all the reports written and compiled at the request of the commission, including statistics from Illinois and other states related to death penalty prosecutions.
ILLINOIS.364.66 I29cp Final 2002 Tech. Appendix

Legal Information
Major Supreme Court Cases:
Furman v. Georgia, 408 US 238 (1972)
Gregg v. Georgia, 428 US 153 (1976)
Coker v. Georgia, 433 US 584 (1977)
National Survey of State Laws

A state-by-state comparison of capital punishment laws arranged in a table format. Includes for each state the relevant section of law, effect of incapacity, method of execution, and minimum age. Also examined is whether or not each state allows capital punishment for nonhomicidal crimes, as well as each state's view of capital homicide. 2003
LEGL REF KF 386.N38 2003 at Gov. Pubs. desk

Cases and Materials on the Death Penalty

Written as a text book for law students, this book covers all foundational and procedural aspects of the criminal process of death penalty cases, including its problems and its place in an international context. 2005
LEGL REF. KF 9227.C2 R58 2005

Equal Justice and the Death Penalty

Studies fairness in sentencing through analysis of Furman v. Georgia (1972), McCleskey v. Kemp (1987) and the 15-year period between them. 1990
LEGL REF KFG 565.C2 B35 1990

"The Ethics and Empirics of Capital Punishment: Is Capital Punishment Morally Required? Acts, Omissions, and Life-Life Trade-offs"

The authors discusses the possible role of deterrence in determining appropriate government policy. 2005
Stanford Law Review, v.58, p.703

"The Ethics and Empirics of Capital Punishment: No, Capital Punishment Is Not Morally Required: Deterrence, Deontology, and the Death Penalty"

The author counters the above article in part by taking it to its logical conclusion: if executing murderers deters murder, should the government also rape rapists, beat batterers, and torture torturers? 2005
Stanford Law Review, v.58, p.751

"Life or Death Mistakes: Cultural Stereotyping, Capital Punishment, and Regional Race-Based Trends in Exoneration and Wrongful Execution"

The author examines how race is represented in the approximately 130 wrongfully convicted capital defendants who were eventually exonerated before or after the sentence was carried out. 2005
University of Detroit Mercy Law Review, v.82, p.181

"Punishment Law and Policy: II. Death Penalty in Practice: A Tale of Two Nations: Implementation of the Death Penalty in 'Executing' Versus 'Symbolic' States in the United States"

The authors address the legal mechanisms that 'symbolic' states have that lowers their execution rate and what social purposes they serve. 2006
Texas Law Review, v.84, p.1869

"Getting to Death: Are Executions Constitutional?"

A very thorough, in-depth analysis of whether execution is cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. The following are considered: the idea of excessive pain, each state's choices of execution methods through the years, and accounts of executions gone wrong.
Iowa Law Review. January 1997 Vol. 82 No. 2 pp. 319-464


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