Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bessler on the Death Penalty in Decline

John D. Bessler, University of Baltimore School of Law, has posted Foreword: The Death Penalty in Decline: From Colonial America to the Present, from the Criminal Law Bulletin 50 (2014): 245-62.  Here is the abstract:
This Article traces the history of capital punishment in America. It describes the death penalty's curtailment in colonial Pennsylvania by William Penn, and the substantial influence of the Italian philosopher Cesare Beccaria -- the first Enlightenment thinker to advocate the abolition of executions -- on the Founding Fathers' views. The Article also describes the transition away from "sanguinary" laws and punishments toward the "penitentiary system" and highlights the U.S. penal system's abandonment of non-lethal corporal punishments.