An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Capital Punishment in the United States


  • Robert Bohm

This fourth edition of the first true textbook on the death penalty engages the reader with a full account of the arguments and issues surrounding capital punishment. The book begins with the history of the death penalty from colonial to modern times, and then examines the moral and legal arguments for and against capital punishment. It also provides an overview of major Supreme Court decisions and describes the legal process behind the death penalty. In addressing these issues, the author reviews recent developments in death penalty law and procedure, including ramifications of newer case law, such as that regarding using lethal injection as a method of execution. The author’s motivation has been to understand what motivates the "deathquest" of the American people, leading a large percentage of the public to support the death penalty. The book will educate readers so that whatever their death penalty opinions are, they are informed ones.
View full description


Criminal justice undergraduate and graduate students, as well as social science and law students


Book information

  • Published: August 2011
  • ISBN: 978-1-4377-3493-5

Table of Contents

1. History of the Death Penalty in the United States: The Pre-Modern Period (1608-1972)

2. Capital Punishment and the Supreme Court: The Pre-Modern Period

3. The Challenge to Capital Punishment's Legality

4. Capital Punishment and the Supreme Court: The Modern Period

5. The Death Penalty at the Federal Level, in the Military, and Globally

6. Methods of Execution

7. General Deterrence and the Death Penalty

8. Incapacitation and Economic Costs of Capital Punishment

9. Miscarriages of Justice and the Death Penalty

10. Arbitrariness and Discrimination in the Administration of the Death Penalty

11. Retribution, Religion, and Capital Punishment

12. American Death Penalty Opinion