Is the Death Penalty Dying? offers an analysis of the historical and political conditions that have shaped and continue to shape death penalty practices on both sides of the Atlantic from the end of World War II to the twenty-first century. This book focuses on what we can learn about the American death penalty and the prospects of its abolition by studying the European experience with capital punishment and especially the multifaceted trajectory of abolition in different European nations and the European Union. As a comparative sociology and history of the present, our book seeks to illuminate the way death penalty systems work and the way abolition occurs. It includes eleven chapters, written by an interdisciplinary group of scholars in the fields of law and literature, sociology and criminology, political science, and history from the United States and several European countries. This work shows how the death penalty has helped define the political and cultural identities of both Europe and the United States and will help readers understand the cultural and institutional barriers that stand in the way of abolition of the death penalty in America.
The United States is today the only retentionist country among the community of Western democracies. Indeed America finds itself in the company of countries such as China, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan in its continuing use of state killing. Moreover, there is hardly any issue on which Europe and the United States seem as far apart as the death penalty.