In Defense of the Death Penalty

IACJ Journal, Summer 2008

15 Pages Posted: 27 Nov 2012

See all articles by Paul G. Cassell

Paul G. Cassell

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

Date Written: 2008


The aims of this text are two-fold. The first is to provide a brief overview of the underpinnings of the death penalty. (The death penalty is firmly grounded in many traditional rationales for punishment, a fact that may explaining why death penalty abolitionists have made so little progress in challenging it head on.) The second is to examine the new wave of administrative challenges to the death penalty. Here again, these claims fail to provide a significant reason for abolishing capital punishment.

Perhaps the most straightforward argument for the death penalty is that it saves innocent lives by preventing convicted murderers from killing again...

Some sense of the risk here is conveyed by the fact that, of the roughly 52,000 state prison inmates serving time for murder, an estimated 810 had previously been convicted of murder and had killed 821 persons following those convictions. Executing each of these inmates after the first murder conviction would have saved the lives of more than 800 persons.

Suggested Citation

Cassell, Paul G., In Defense of the Death Penalty (2008). IACJ Journal, Summer 2008, Available at SSRN:

Paul G. Cassell (Contact Author)

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States
801-585-5202 (Phone)
801-581-6897 (Fax)

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