Comparative Capital Punishment
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Comparative Capital Punishment

Edited by Carol S. Steiker and Jordan M. Steiker

Comparative Capital Punishment offers a set of in-depth, critical and comparative contributions addressing death practices around the world. Despite the dramatic decline of the death penalty in the last half of the twentieth century, capital punishment remains in force in a substantial number of countries around the globe. This research handbook explores both the forces behind the stunning recent rejection of the death penalty, as well as the changing shape of capital practices where it is retained. The expert contributors address the social, political, economic, and cultural influences on both retention and abolition of the death penalty and consider the distinctive possibilities and pathways to worldwide abolition.
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Chapter 3: Deciding who lives and who dies: eligibility for capital punishment under national and international law

Sandra L. Babcock


International human rights treaties have long exempted certain offenders from the application of the death penalty. While international law does not, broadly speaking, prohibit states from imposing capital punishment for certain serious offenses, it does impose constraints on who may be subjected to the death penalty-including, for example, juvenile offenders, pregnant women and individuals with mental disorders. In principle, these restrictions are relatively uncontroversial. In practice, however, states have failed to implement them consistently. At the same time, certain states have gone farther than what is required under international norms by excluding additional groups from the application of the death penalty, such as women and the elderly. This chapter explores these exclusions and their implementation, while also discussing ongoing efforts to expand their scope, with particular focus on the bright-line rule excluding individuals under 18 years of age from capital punishment in light of recent advances in neuroscientific research regarding the young adult brain.

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