Coming Soon!
Capital Punishment
A Documentary and Reference Guide
by David L. Hudson Jr.
June 2023, 294pp, 8 1/2x11
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-7577-9
$122, £94, 107€, A168
Available for purchase 30 days prior to publication.
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7578-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

A 2021 Pew Research poll found a majority (64%) of Americans favored the death penalty for murder—even though only about one in five (21%) thought “adequate safeguards” existed to make sure no innocent person was put to death.

Each primary source in this essential collection on capital punishment features an authoritative introduction and analysis that helps provide crucial context for understanding the evolution of law and public attitudes toward the death penalty from colonial times to the present.

This book showcases and explains key primary documents that reflect and have influenced the history of capital punishment in the United States. By presenting and examining a wide range of fascinating and momentous documents, including court decisions and transcripts, legislation, personal accounts and perspectives, congressional testimony, and government documents issued from all political perspectives, students will gain valuable insight into the evolution of public opinion and government policy on the death penalty in America. To better understand these documents, each primary source is prefaced with an introduction and followed by scholarly analysis. These documents and accompanying analysis complement one another, helping students gain a better and more accurate understanding of the viewpoints, convictions, and perspectives that have shaped American attitudes and practices toward capital punishment since the United States’ earliest days.


  • Provides a detailed overview of the history of—and controversies about—capital punishment in the United States
  • Offers a unique mix of government documentation, court cases, and political/social advocacy perspectives
  • Expert commentary supplies context for primary documents on capital punishment
  • Readers Guide to Related Documents organizes all featured primary sources by theme for researchers
David L. Hudson Jr. is an award-winning professor at Belmont University College of Law, where he teaches constitutional law and First Amendment law. He is the author, co-author, or co-editor of more than 40 books.
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