Numerous people face legal execution in the United States. Their presence in death rows throughout the country refutes a basic premise of our judicial system, for the use of capital punishment denies the existence of universal rehabilitation. There is another paradox-juries continue to sentence men and women to death; yet few ever get executed. Whether one is for or against capital punishment, one cannot approach the issue without deep emotion and conviction. James McCafferty provides an even-tempered, eminently reasonable discussion of the issue with balanced commentary from both sides of the debate.
McCafferty presents not only empirical data and analyses of the nature of capital punishment, but provides perspectives on the larger issues of our approach to lawbreakers and their rehabilitation. The claims of both those who want to retain capital punishment and those who want to abolish it are included. The arguments consider whether capital punishment deters crime as well as the question of discrimination. A wealth of references, an extremely useful bibliography, and a final chapter delineating the legal issues facing the courts at the time the book was originally published in 1972 complete this unusually incisive and balanced study.
Capital Punishment remains an important volume in the field of criminal justice. It seeks to educate rather than propagandize. It is intended for use in numerous courses in sociology and political science as well as in law schools. Anyone wishing to gain a perspective on what remains a controversial issue more than thirty years later would be well advised to study this work by world-class scholars.