Edited by Carol S. Steiker and Jordan M. Steiker
Chapter 15: Reframing the debate on attitudes towards the death penalty
This chapter addresses the changes in public attitudes towards the death penalty over time and across countries with references to the United States (US), the UK, Japan, Malaysia, Ghana, Malawi and India. It examines the factors that have influenced attitudinal change in one direction or another and analyzes the interplay between policy change and attitude change. The author argues that certain events, such as miscarriages of justice, and the victims’ movement and not limited to human rights considerations-helped ‘reframe’ the death penalty in certain countries leading to eventual public dismissal or its further endorsement. The path to abolition is not uniform and abolition does not always mean countries abolish due to a sudden or a gradual recognition that killing a prisoner as a state punishment is intrinsically wrong. Those wishing to convince retentionist countries of the importance of abolishing the death penalty should engage in understanding the motivations behind retention and attempt to indigenize or translate the human rights framework into the relevant local context.
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