Coming Soon!
Capital Punishment
An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law
by Joseph A. Melusky, Editor
October 2024, 400pp, 7x10
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-7707-0
$107, £83, 94€, A147
Available for purchase 30 days prior to publication.
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7708-7
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Since 1973, at least 190 people awaiting execution have been released from death row after evidence of their innocence was found.

This authoritative, balanced, and accessible reference resource provides readers with a thoughtful and wide-ranging survey of capital punishment in America, including its history, its legal and cultural foundations, and racial and economic factors in its application.

This carefully crafted primer on the history and present state of capital punishment in the United States examines cultural, political, and legal factors and developments, as well as key figures, groups, and movements, by consolidating a wide variety of material into a single, convenient source.

Utilizing a rich and varied array of scholarship and primary sources, this work examines historical, political, cultural, and legal factors and developments that have shaped the contours of capital punishment throughout American history. It examines key figures and organizations who have played pivotal roles in debates over the death penalty; provides readers with illuminating coverage of laws, cases, and the people involved; discusses the experiences of death row inmates; and explores questions and controversies revolving around the socioeconomic factors that influence the use of capital punishment. And it does so in an accessible, reader-friendly, and balanced fashion.


  • Chronology of events related to capital punishment in America
  • Glossary of relevant terms related to the death penalty and the justice system
  • Primary documents that illuminate the legal and philosophical underpinnings of both pro- and anti-capital punishment positions
  • Annotated bibliography of resources for further study
Joseph A. Melusky serves as professor of political science, director of the Center for the Study of Government and Law, coordinator of public administration/government service, and director of the pre-law program at Saint Francis University, where he has received a number of teaching awards, including the Swatsworth Award and the Dr. John F. Coleman Award for Outstanding Teaching and Research. He is a former president and vice president of the Pennsylvania Political Science Association (PPSA) and has published numerous papers and several books on capital punishment and the American legal and political systems.
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