Saturday, November 19, 2011
Franklin E. Zimring and David T. Johnson (University of California, Berkeley, pictured and University of Hawaii at Manoa) have posted The Dark at the Top of the Stairs: Four Destructive Influences of Capital Punishment on American Criminal Justice on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
State execution is not a major part of America's system of criminal punishment, but it casts a long shadow over the principles and practices of the rest of criminal justice. This essay discusses four negative impacts of the death penalty on the larger system: (1) The hyper-extension of the substantive criminal law; (2) The symbolic transformation of harsh punishment to a private reward; (3) The creation and overuse of Life Without Possibility of Parole (LWOP) sentences; and (4) The diversion of legal and judicial resources from other pressing problems in the criminal system.