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Criminal Law Conversations$
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Paul H. Robinson, Stephen Garvey, and Kimberly Kessler Ferzan

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199861279

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199861279.001.0001

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The Heart has its Reasons

The Heart has its Reasons

Examining the Strange Persistence of the American Death Penalty

Chapter:
(p.635) 29. The Heart has its Reasons
Source:
Criminal Law Conversations
Author(s):

Susan A. Bandes

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199861279.003.0029

This chapter presents an authoritative overview of the death penalty in the United States. It begins with a discussion of the three traditional rationales for capital punishment, namely, retribution, deterrence, and incapacitation. It then considers three themes surrounding the debate on death penalty: the role of emotion, the existence of emotion in a complex feedback loop with institutions such as the criminal justice system, and the intensity (or salience) of public opinion on the issue. It argues that we need a more explicit account of the emotional sources of support for and opposition to the death penalty. The chapter includes comments by some of the nation's top legal scholars from the field of criminal law, tackling topics such as the role of reason and emotion in capital sentencing, outrage versus anger and hatred, and whether empathy will kill the death penalty (or vice versa).

Keywords:   death penalty, United States, capital punishment, retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, emotion, sentencing, empathy, criminal justice system

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