Death by Design: Capital Punishment As a Social Psychological System

Hardcover | August 8, 2005

byCraig Haney

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How can otherwise normal, moral persons - as citizens, voters, and jurors - participate in a process that is designed to take the life of another? In DEATH BY DESIGN, research psychologist Craig Haney argues that capital punishment, and particularly the sequence of events that lead to deathsentencing itself, is maintained through a complex and elaborate social psychological system that distances and disengages us from the true nature of the task. Relying heavily on his own research and that of other social scientists, Haney suggests that these social psychological forces enablepersons to engage in behavior from which many of them otherwise would refrain. However, by facilitating death sentencing in these ways, this inter-related set of social psychological forces also undermines the reliability and authenticity of the process, and compromises the fairness of its outcomes.Because these social psychological forces are systemic in nature - built into the very system of death sentencing itself - Haney concludes by suggesting a number of inter-locking reforms, derived directly from empirical research on capital punishment, that are needed to increase the fairness andreliability of the process. The historic and ongoing public debate over the death penalty takes place not only in courtrooms, but also in classrooms, offices, and living rooms. This timely book offers stimulating insights into capital punishment for professionals and students working in psychology, law, criminology,sociology, and cultural area studies. As capital punishment receives continued attention in the media, it is also a necessary and provocative guide that empowers all readers to come to their own conclusions about the death penalty.

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How can otherwise normal, moral persons - as citizens, voters, and jurors - participate in a process that is designed to take the life of another? In DEATH BY DESIGN, research psychologist Craig Haney argues that capital punishment, and particularly the sequence of events that lead to deathsentencing itself, is maintained through a com...

Craig Haney is a Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has been conducting research on capital punishment for over 25 years.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:352 pages, 6.18 × 9.29 × 1.18 inPublished:August 8, 2005Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195182405

ISBN - 13:9780195182408

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Table of Contents

1. Blinded by the Death Penalty: Ignoring the Social Realities of Capital Punishment2. Frameworks of Misunderstanding: Capital Punishment and the American Media3. Constructing Capital Crimes and Defendants: Death Penalty Case-Specific Biases and Their Effects4. The Fragile Consensus: Public Opinion and The Death Penalty5. Organized to Execute: On the Nature of Capital Jury Selection6. Preparing for the Death Penalty in Advance of Trial: Process Effects in Death Qualification7. Structural Aggravation: Moral Disengagement in the Capital Trial Process8. Misguided Discretion: Instructional Incomprehension in the System of Death Sentencing9. Condemning the Other: Race, Mitigation, and the 'Empathic Divide'10. No Longer Tinkering with the Machinery of Death: The Need for Systemic Reform

Editorial Reviews

"It is a compelling, exhaustive argument...The book covers almost every aspect of the capital punishment process."--PsycCRITIQUES