Kiss of death: America's love affair with the death penalty

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Northeastern University Press, 2003 - Social Science - 189 pages
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Few Issues Provoke such intense feelings and strongly held views as does capital punishment. In Kiss of Death, John D. Bessler skillfully interweaves the powerful life stories of death row prisoners, his own experiences as a pro bono attorney on death penalty cases in Texas, and historical perspective to persuade the reader that state-sanctioned executions must be abolished in the United States. Bessler's compelling, well-crafted narrative asks if capital punishment has less to do with crime control and more to do with vengeance and swift retribution--an eye-for-an-eye, a tooth-for-a-tooth. The author argues convincingly that the death penalty is just another form of violence in an already too-violent society. He contends that sentencing capital offenders to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is the best way to meet the needs of public safety while breaking the self-destructive cycle of violence. Placing the nation's complex, ever-changing relationship with capital punishment within legal, cultural, and historical contexts, Bessler dispels myths about the death penalty and addresses such subjects as racial discrimination in capital cases, wrongful convictions, the prominent role of guns in American life and in homicides, the issue of deterrence versus brutalization, the impact of executions on corrections officers and others in the criminal justice system, and the worldwide movement toward abolition. Also included is a call for televised executions as a means of exposing the reality of capital punishment to the public. Kiss of Death brings a fresh yet reasoned approach to an emotionally charged and highly contentious debate. It shows why people should care--in fact, beoutraged--that government-sponsored killings are still taking place today.

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Kiss of death: America's love affair with the death penalty

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"The kiss of death" is how attorney Bessler (Legacy of Violence) describes state-sanctioned executions as they are carried out in America today, and he reasons that this "kiss" is morally ruinous to ... Read full review


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Ironies of Imprisonment
Michael Welch
No preview available - 2005
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About the author (2003)

John D. Bessler is an attorney and Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School. He has assisted in the pro bono representation of four death row inmates and has written numerous law review articles on topics ranging from civil procedure to constitutional law. He lives in Minneapolis.

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