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Columbia Law School

Criminal Law

Capital punishment

Articles 1 - 5 of 5

Full-Text Articles in Law

Three Essays In Criminal Justice, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2015

Three Essays In Criminal Justice, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

How could the New York Times call the grand jury’s decision to no bill the indictment against officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, a “verdict”? How could federal appellate judges call it a “procedural shortcut” when a state judge, in a death penalty case, signs the state attorney general’s proposed judicial opinion without even striking the word “proposed” or reviewing the full opinion? What do these incidents tell us about contemporary criminal justice? These essays explore these puzzles. The first, “Verdict and Illusion,” begins to sketch the role of illusions in justice. The second, “A Singe Voice of ...


Beccaria's On Crimes And Punishments: A Mirror On The History Of The Foundations Of Modern Criminal Law, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2013

Beccaria's On Crimes And Punishments: A Mirror On The History Of The Foundations Of Modern Criminal Law, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

Beccaria’s treatise "On Crimes and Punishments" (1764) has become a placeholder for the classical school of thought in criminology, for deterrence-based public policy, for death penalty abolitionism, and for liberal ideals of legality and the rule of law. A source of inspiration for Bentham and Blackstone, an object of praise for Voltaire and the Philosophies, a target of pointed critiques by Kant and Hegel, the subject of a genealogy by Foucault, the object of derision by the Physiocrats, rehabilitated and appropriated by the Chicago School of law and economics – these ricochets and reflections on Beccaria’s treatise reveal multiple ...


Minority Practice, Majority’S Burden: The Death Penalty Today, James S. Liebman, Peter Clarke Jan 2011

Minority Practice, Majority’S Burden: The Death Penalty Today, James S. Liebman, Peter Clarke

Faculty Scholarship

Although supported in principle by two-thirds of the public and even more of the States, capital punishment in the United States is a minority practice when the actual death-sentencing practices of the nation’s 3000-plus counties and their populations are considered. This feature of American capital punishment has been present for decades, has become more pronounced recently, and is especially clear when death sentences, which are merely infrequent, are distinguished from executions, which are exceedingly rare.

The first question this Article asks is what forces account for the death-proneness of a minority of American communities? The answer to that question ...


Executions, Deterrence And Homicide: A Tale Of Two Cities, Franklin Zimring, Jeffrey Fagan, David T. Johnson Jan 2009

Executions, Deterrence And Homicide: A Tale Of Two Cities, Franklin Zimring, Jeffrey Fagan, David T. Johnson

Faculty Scholarship

We compare homicide rates in two quite similar cities with vastly different execution risks. Singapore had an execution rate close to 1 per million per year until an explosive twentyfold increase in 1994-95 and 1996-97 to a level that we show was probably the highest in the world. Then over the next 11 years, Singapore executions dropped by about 95%. Hong Kong, by contrast,has no executions all during the last generation and abolished capital punishment in 1993. Homicide levels and trends are remarkably similar in these two cities over the 35 years after 1973, with neither the surge in ...


Abolition In The U.S.A. By 2050: On Political Capital And Ordinary Acts Of Resistance, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2008

Abolition In The U.S.A. By 2050: On Political Capital And Ordinary Acts Of Resistance, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

The United States, like the larger international community, likely will tend toward greater abolition of the death penalty during the first half of the twenty-first century. A handful of individual states – states that have historically carried out few or no executions – probably will abolish capital punishment over the next twenty years, which will create political momentum and ultimately a federal constitutional ban on capital punishment in the United States. It is entirely reasonable to expect that, by the mid-twenty-first century, capital punishment will have the same status internationally as torture: an outlier practice, prohibited by international agreements and customary international ...