Deciding Whether the Death Penalty Should Be Abolished

18 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2010 Last revised: 10 May 2011

See all articles by Thomas H. Koenig

Thomas H. Koenig

Northeastern University

Michael L. Rustad

Suffolk University Law School


Professors Thomas H. Koenig & Michael L. Rustad’s review essay highlights the importance of Russell Murphy’s recent book, Voices of the Death Penalty Debate: A Citizen’s Guide to Capital Punishment for social science classes as well as the legal academy. This review essay contends that Murphy’s narrative approach to death penalty arguments is pedagogically the most sound approach to thinking about the death penalty.

Lawyers, journalists, and informed members of the public need this book because it dispassionately examines the arguments for and against the death penalty in an innovative format: through witness testimony. The title of this book reflects Murphy’s sincere attempt to present the arguments and the witnesses’ testimony in a fair and impartial manner that is in the best tradition of field studies in sociology. This is a “deliberately different” book in that it presents multiple perspectives through the narratives of major participants in the death penalty debates: criminologists, legal academics, social scientists, religious leaders, family members of victims, and former death row inmates vindicated by later discovered evidence. The review essay concludes that this book is a significant contribution to the social science literature in that it enables students, scholars, and policymakers to consider diverse arguments in a format that is fair and balanced.

Suggested Citation

Koenig, Thomas H. and Rustad, Michael L., Deciding Whether the Death Penalty Should Be Abolished. Suffolk University Law Review, Vol. 44, p. 193, 2011, Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 10-42, Available at SSRN:

Thomas H. Koenig

Northeastern University ( email )

220 B RP
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Michael L. Rustad (Contact Author)

Suffolk University Law School ( email )

120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108-4977
United States

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