In Grave Injustice Richard A. Stack seeks to advance the anti–death penalty argument by examining the cases of individuals who, like Davis, have been executed but are likely innocent. By telling the stories of Jesse Tafero, Ruben Cantu, Carlos DeLuna, Cameron Todd Willingham, Larry Griffin, and others, Stack puts a human face on the ultimate and irrevocable tragedy of capital punishment.
Although polls indicate Americans favor death sentences approximately three to one, many respondents change their position when presented with the facts about capital punishment.
Stack's compelling descriptions of nineteen wrongful executions illustrate the flaws of the death penalty, which, he argues, is ineffective in deterring crime and costs more than sentences of life without parole. He demonstrates that racial disparities in implementation, procedural errors, incompetent defense attorneys, and mistaken eyewitness identifications lead to an alarming number of wrongful convictions. But influencing public opinion is only part of the battle to end state-sanctioned killing. Stack profiles six anti–death penalty warriors, demonstrating the range of what can be done, and what remains to be done, to move toward a more compassionate society.
Part one of this extensive analysis focuses on politics, legal history, multicultural issues, and the international aspects of the death penalty. Part two offers a regional analysis with essays that put death penalty issues into a geographic and cultural context. Part three focuses on specific states with emphasis on the need to understand capital punishment in terms of state law development, particularly because states determine on whom the death penalty will be imposed. Part four examines the various means of death, from hanging to lethal injection, in state law case studies. And finally, part five focuses on the portrayal of capital punishment in popular culture.
Instead, states responded with a swift and decisive showing of support for capital punishment. As anxiety about crime rose and public approval of the Supreme Court declined, the stage was set in 1976 for Gregg v. Georgia, in which the Court dramatically reversed direction.
A Wild Justice is an extraordinary behind-the-scenes look at the Court, the justices, and the political complexities of one of the most racially charged and morally vexing issues of our time.
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