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 10: Innocence and the global death penalty

Brandon L. Garrett


All systems of capital punishment have been haunted by wrongful convictions and executions of the innocent. Whether it is a sophisticated DNA test proving innocence beyond all reasonable doubt, or a case in which the supposedly-murdered victim reappears very much alive and unharmed, errors have occurred in capital cases as long as there have been capital cases. The innocence movement and growing awareness of the causes and cures for wrongful convictions have, in the past few decades, sharpened the arguments against using the death penalty and encouraged death penalty proponents to try to narrow its use to cases with more accurate evidence. In turn, the errors brought to light in high-profile death penalty cases have encouraged broader efforts to reform criminal justice. As innocence-related litigation and research have gone global, more jurisdictions are considering the implications of wrongful convictions and executions. This Chapter describes emerging awareness and study of wrongful convictions in the United States and then in several other countries, including China, Taiwan and India. The Chapter then turns to research exploring the causes of those wrongful convictions and reforms that have flowed from that research.

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