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The first case study of its kind, this book addresses a broad range of questions about the rationale for and application of judicial execution in Connecticut since the seventeenth century. In addition to identifying the 158 people who have been put to death for crimes during the state's history, Lawrence Goodheart analyzes their social status in terms of sex, race, class, religion, and ethnicity. He looks at the circumstances of the crimes, the weapons that were used, and the victims. He reconstructs the history of Connecticut's capital laws, its changing rituals of execution, and the growing debate over the legitimacy of the death penalty itself. Although the focus is on the criminal justice system, the ethical values of New England culture form the larger context. Goodheart shows how a steady diminution in types of capital crimes, including witchcraft and sexual crimes, culminated in an emphasis on proportionate punishment during the Enlightenment and eventually led to a preference for imprisonment for all capital crimes except first-degree murder. Goodheart concludes by considering why Connecticut, despite its many statutory restrictions on capital punishment and lengthy appeals process, has been the only state in New England to have executed anyone since 1960.
The death penalty has largely disappeared as a national legislative issue and the Supreme Court has mainly bowed out, leaving the states at the cutting edge of abolition politics. This essential guide presents and explains the changing political and cultural challenges to capital punishment at the state level. As with their previous volume, America Without the Death Penalty (Northeastern, 2002), the authors of this completely new volume concentrate on the local and regional relationships between death penalty abolition and numerous empirical factors, such as economic conditions; public sentiment; the roles of social, political, and economic elites; the mass media; and population diversity. They highlight the recent abolition of the practice in New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Illinois; the near misses in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maryland, and Nebraska; the Kansas rollercoaster rides; and the surprising recent decline of the death penalty even in the deep South. Abolition of the death penalty in the United States is a piecemeal process, with one state after another peeling off from the pack until none is left and the tragic institution finally is no more. This book tells you how, and why, that will likely happen.
What is the meaning of punishment today? Where is the limit that separates it from the cruel and unusual? In legal discourse, the distinction between punishment and vengeance—punishment being the measured use of legally sanctioned violence and vengeance being a use of violence that has no measure—is expressed by the idea of "cruel and unusual punishment." This phrase was originally contained in the English Bill of Rights (1689). But it (and versions of it) has since found its way into numerous constitutions and declarations, including Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the Amendment to the US Constitution. Clearly, in order for the use of violence to be legitimate, it must be subject to limitation. The difficulty is that the determination of this limit should be objective, but it is not, and its application in punitive practice is constituted by a host of extra-legal factors and social and political structures. It is this essential contestability of the limit which distinguishes punishment from violence that this book addresses. And, including contributions from a range of internationally renowned scholars, it offers a plurality of original and important responses to the contemporary question of the relationship between punishment and the limits of law.
From a distinguished historian, a detailed and compelling examination of how the early Republic struggled with the idea that "all men are created equal" How did Americans in the generations following the Declaration of Independence translate its lofty ideals into practice? In this broadly synthetic work, distinguished historian Richard Brown shows that despite its founding statement that "all men are created equal," the early Republic struggled with every form of social inequality. While people paid homage to the ideal of equal rights, this ideal came up against entrenched social and political practices and beliefs. Brown illustrates how the ideal was tested in struggles over race and ethnicity, religious freedom, gender and social class, voting rights and citizenship. He shows how high principles fared in criminal trials and divorce cases when minorities, women, and people from different social classes faced judgment. This book offers a much-needed exploration of the ways revolutionary political ideas penetrated popular thinking and everyday practice.
Commentary on the Constitution from Plato to Rousseau looks at 14 historical figures who—by their words and/or deeds—set the stage for political thought before the U.S. Constitution was written. Rather than a book about what the founders took from previous thinkers and political figures, this is a book that allows the reader to consider the U.S. Constitution while learning about people whose genius has transcended time, from Plato to Rousseau.
America's leading writer about the law takes a close, incisive look at one of society's most vexing legal issues Scott Turow is known to millions as the author of peerless novels about the troubling regions of experience where law and reality intersect. In "real life," as a respected criminal lawyer, he has been involved with the death penalty for more than a decade, including successfully representing two different men convicted in death-penalty prosecutions. In this vivid account of how his views on the death penalty have evolved, Turow describes his own experiences with capital punishment from his days as an impassioned young prosecutor to his recent service on the Illinois commission which investigated the administration of the death penalty and influenced Governor George Ryan's unprecedented commutation of the sentences of 164 death row inmates on his last day in office. Along the way, he provides a brief history of America's ambivalent relationship with the ultimate punishment, analyzes the potent reasons for and against it, including the role of the victims' survivors, and tells the powerful stories behind the statistics, as he moves from the Governor's Mansion to Illinois' state-of-the art 'super-max' prison and the execution chamber. This gripping, clear-sighted, necessary examination of the principles, the personalities, and the politics of a fundamental dilemma of our democracy has all the drama and intellectual substance of Turow's celebrated fiction.
For more than 300 years Massachusetts executed men and women convicted of murder. This book offers an account of how the efforts of reformers and abolitionists and the Supreme Judicial Court's commitment to the rule of law ultimately converged to end the death penalty in Massachusetts.

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