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Why Did China Reform It’s Death Penalty?

25 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2009 Last revised: 9 Sep 2009

Kandis Scott

Santa Clara University - School of Law

Date Written: August 10, 2009


China recently reformed its death penalty procedures, and as a result the government has executed fewer prisoners. The author explores possible explanations for and policy concerns behind this change and evaluates their implications for the future of the death penalty in China. The influences for the change include international forces and domestic factors, such as academic criticism, the media, changed circumstances in society, compassion, and politics. Although hardly transparent, the underlying motivations for the revisions suggest that China eventually may abolish capital punishment, perhaps before the United States does so. However, recent signals indicate that officials may be ending the 'lenient' period, suggesting that the reforms may mean much less than thought initially.

Keywords: International Transnational & Comparative Criminal Law, Asian Law, Law and Society, Criminal Law

Suggested Citation

Scott, Kandis, Why Did China Reform It’s Death Penalty? (August 10, 2009). Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal, Forthcoming; Santa Clara Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-14. Available at SSRN:

Kandis Scott (Contact Author)

Santa Clara University - School of Law ( email )

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States

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