Murdering Myths: The Story Behind the Death Penalty

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Rowman & Littlefield, Jan 1, 2005 - Political Science - 209 pages
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In the thirty years since the reinstatement of the death penalty, nearly 1,000 people have been executed, and over 3,500 people currently sit on death row in America's prisons. At the same time, a wide range of activists, scholars, and researchers have raised profound questions about the execution of innocent people, racial bias in sentencing, and capital punishment's failure to act as a deterrent. Why, then, do most Americans still support the death penalty? In Murdering Myths: The Story Behind the Death Penalty, Judith Kay goes beyond the hype and statistics to examine Americans' deep-seated beliefs about crime and punishment. She argues that Americans share a counter-productive idea of justice that punishment corrects bad behavior, suffering pays for wrong deeds, and victims' desire for revenge is natural and inevitable. Drawing on interviews with both victims and inmates, Kay shows how this belief harms perpetrators, victims, and society and calls for a new narrative that recognizes the humanity in all of us. Insightful and thought-provoking, Murdering Myths is a fresh look at one of the most contentious issues in American life."
  

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Contents

The Story We Tell
1
The Incoherency and Immorality of Punishment
17
The Rules of the Game
35
Rectification through Suffering
57
The Storys Vices
77
Habits Begotten by Violence
93
Making the Three Rs Stick
109
Of Monsters and Men
121
The Storys Broken Promise
147
Living a New Story
165
Bibliography
189
Index
201
About the Author
209
Copyright

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About the author (2005)

Judith W. Kay is associate professor of religion at the University of Puget Sound.

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