The Dark at the Top of the Stairs: Four Destructive Influences of Capital Punishment on American Criminal Justice
Franklin E. Zimring
University of California, Berkeley
David T. Johnson
University of Hawaii at Manoa
November 8, 2011
State execution is not a major part of America's system of criminal punishment, but it casts a long shadow over the principles and practices of the rest of criminal justice. This essay discusses four negative impacts of the death penalty on the larger system: (1) The hyper-extension of the substantive criminal law; (2) The symbolic transformation of harsh punishment to a private reward; (3) The creation and overuse of Life Without Possibility of Parole (LWOP) sentences; and (4) The diversion of legal and judicial resources from other pressing problems in the criminal system.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 16
Keywords: Capital Punishment, Imprisonment
JEL Classification: K14, K40
Date posted: November 10, 2011
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