CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, February 27, 2012

Williams on the Supreme Court's Death Penalty Jurisprudence

Williams kennethKenneth Williams (South Texas College of Law) has published Most Deserving of Death? An Analysis of the Supreme Court's Death Penalty Jurisprudence (Ashgate 2012). Here is a brief summary:

     The American criminal justice system is acknowledged as a model for criminal procedure worldwide.  The death penalty, however, is one of its biggest flaws.  How did we end up with a system that both proponents and opponents of the death penalty would agree has become dysfunctional?  It is the thesis of this book that the United States Supreme Court, through its inconsistent and often incoherent jurisprudence, bears primary responsibility.  In 1976, the Court began an endeavor to limit the death penalty to the worst offenders.  Despite the Court's attempts to limit the death penalty, the manner in which it is meted out is no fairer now than when the Court first began this endeavor.  The death penalty continues to be fraught with arbitrariness and racial discrimination.  There remains no logical way to separate the cases of those who end up on death row from those who do not.  Using case studies, the book examines issues such as jury selection, ineffective assistance of counsel, the role of race, claims of innocence and international treaties and their lack of impact on capital punishment.

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