Death by Installments: The Ordeal of Willie Francis

Hardcover | August 1, 1988

byArthur Selwyn Miller

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The case of Willie Francis has been scrutinized and reexamined over the past several decades, and it is still not clear whether he was guilty of the crime for which he was executed in Louisiana forty years ago. Miller and Bowman's book recounts the ordeal of this teenaged black youth who was sent a second time to the electric chair a year after repeated attempts to supply enough current to kill him failed. His tragic story raises disturbing questions not only about capital punishment itself but about the humanity of our methods of carrying out executions and our capacity as a nation to uphold fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution. Miller and Bowman describe Francis' experiences from the time of his arrest, and they review the legal struggles within the Supreme Court that followed the botched execution attempt. In considering Eighth Amendment provisions against cruel and unusual punishment, the Court held that Willie Francis' previous subjection to electrical current did not make his subsequent electrocution "any more cruel in the constitutional sense than any other electrocution." The authors examine the far-reaching implications of this stand in light of the many similar--but unpublicized--incidents of prolonged, agonizing executions by electrocution, gas, and even lethal injection. They contend that the Court has never faced the issue squarely and that its failure to set limits on the inflicting of pain in the Willie Francis case renders the Eighth Amendment guarantee meaningless.

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The case of Willie Francis has been scrutinized and reexamined over the past several decades, and it is still not clear whether he was guilty of the crime for which he was executed in Louisiana forty years ago. Miller and Bowman's book recounts the ordeal of this teenaged black youth who was sent a second time to the electric chair a y...

Format:HardcoverDimensions:189 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.72 inPublished:August 1, 1988Publisher:GREENWOOD PRESS INC.

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0313260095

ISBN - 13:9780313260094

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?The death penalty--its morality, constitutionality, social effects--will remain a controversial subject for years. Miller and Bowman's account of Willie Francis's double execution provides an excellent framework within which to consider (or reconsider) the death penalty debate. In addition to this case study, the book provides a lucid insight into the political and judicial processes that govern our lives. The authors tell the story of a black teenager sent to the electric chair twice within one year because the first execution attempt failed. They also raise important questions about the death penalty, including its humanity, our methods of execution, our constitutional rights and the possibility of executing an innocent person. Most important, a question that permeates the book is Do the methods of execution violate the cruel and unusual punishment provisions of the Eighth Amendment?' Miller and Bowman present the case clearly and dramatically, from the botched execution to the successful execution; they also forcefully and thoughtfully explain the Francis case in between these two events. The endnotes, bibliography, and index are quite good. The book can be read by anyone with an interest in the issue, and is highly recommended for public and undergraduate libraries.??Choice