A breakthrough collection of key documents in the history of the capital punishment debate in the United States.
Both sides of the highly charged capital punishment debate in the United States are examined in this breakthrough collection of 112 key documents, arranged by historical period. The political and social aspects of the debate are represented through a wide range of documents, including congressional hearings, Supreme Court decisions, position papers, biographical accounts, and news stories. An explanatory introduction precedes each document to help readers understand how various and seemingly unrelated social, economic, and political factors have impacted public attitudes, legislation, and judicial decisions pertaining to capital punishment.
Vila and Morris provide us with the historical and ecological framework in which this centuries-old debate has unfolded. This volume is organized into six parts, each one representing a different time period: Colonial Era to Independence, 1800-1917, 1918-1959, 1960-1976, 1977-1989, and the 1990s. The documents provided in each part trace the history and development of the debate, chronicling the ebb and flow of support for the death penalty during different periods in our country's history. Special attention is paid to the effects of particular events in history—the American Revolution, the Great Depression, and the Civil Rights movement, for example—on the ever-changing opinions concerning capital punishment. The representation of both sides of the debate found in these documents will encourage and challenge students, policymakers, and concerned citizens to examine their own viewpoints and draw their own conclusions on the capital punishment debate.