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Deterrence

Law and Psychology

Series

2008

Articles 1 - 1 of 1

Full-Text Articles in Law

Engaging Capital Emotions, Douglas A. Berman, Stephanos Bibas Jan 2008

Engaging Capital Emotions, Douglas A. Berman, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The Supreme Court, in Kennedy v. Louisiana, is about to decide whether the Eighth Amendment forbids capital punishment for child rape. Commentators are aghast, viewing this as a vengeful recrudescence of emotion clouding sober, rational criminal justice policy. To their minds, emotion is distracting. To ours, however, emotion is central to understand the death penalty. Descriptively, emotions help to explain many features of our death-penalty jurisprudence. Normatively, emotions are central to why we punish, and denying or squelching them risks prompting vigilantism and other unhealthy outlets for this normal human reaction. The emotional case for the death penalty for child ...