Capital punishment is one of the more controversial subjects in the social sciences, especially in criminal justice and criminology. Over the last decade or so, the United States has experienced a significant decline in the number of death sentences and executions. Since 2007, eight states have abolished capital punishment, bringing the total number of states without the death penalty to 19, plus the District of Columbia, and more are likely to follow suit in the near future (Nebraska reinstated its death penalty in 2016). Worldwide, 70 percent of countries have abolished capital punishment in law or in practice. The current trend suggests the eventual demise of capital punishment in all but a few recalcitrant states and countries. Within this context, a fresh look at capital punishment in the United States and worldwide is warranted.

The Routledge Handbook on Capital Punishment comprehensively examines the topic of capital punishment from a wide variety of perspectives. A thoughtful introductory chapter from experts Bohm and Lee presents a contextual framework for the subject matter, and chapters present state-of-the-art analyses of a range of aspects of capital punishment, grouped into five sections: (1) Capital Punishment: History, Opinion, and Culture; (2) Capital Punishment: Rationales and Religious Views; (3) Capital Punishment and Constitutional Issues; (4) The Death Penalty’s Administration; and (5) The Death Penalty’s Consequences.

This is a key collection for students taking courses in prisons, penology, criminal justice, criminology, and related subjects, and is also an essential reference for academics and practitioners working in prison service or in related agencies.

chapter |2 pages


part 1|148 pages

Capital Punishment: History, Opinion, and Culture

part A|49 pages


chapter 1|25 pages

The American Death Penalty

A Short (But Long) History

part B|33 pages


part C|64 pages


chapter 5|19 pages

Media and Capital Punishment

chapter 6|19 pages

Popular Media and the Death Penalty

A Critical Discourse Analysis of the Death Penalty in Film

chapter 7|24 pages

Why We Need the Death Penalty

And What We Need to Do to Keep It

part 2|93 pages

Capital Punishment: Rationales and Religious Views

part A|48 pages


chapter 8|17 pages

Retribution and Capital Punishment

“It’s in the Bible, Isn’t It?”

part B|45 pages

Religious Views

part 3|65 pages

Capital Punishment and Constitutional Issues

part 4|209 pages

The Death Penalty’s Administration

chapter 17|18 pages

The Financial Cost of the Death Penalty

Examining the Evidence

chapter 18|16 pages

Prosecutors and the Death Penalty

chapter 19|17 pages

Counsel for the Despised and the Condemned

Capital Defense Attorneys

chapter 20|21 pages

The Capital Jury and Sentencing

Neither Guided Nor Individualized

chapter 21|14 pages

The Penalty Phase of the Capital Murder Trial

A Social-Psychological Analysis

chapter 23|16 pages


Failsafe or Fantasy?

chapter 24|19 pages

Execution Methods in a Nutshell

chapter 27|17 pages

The Federal Death Penalty

part 5|146 pages

The Death Penalty’s Consequences

chapter 29|15 pages

The Topography of Capital Punishment

Geographic Variations in Seeking, Achieving, and Carrying Out the Death Penalty

chapter 33|6 pages

Living and Working on Death Row

chapter 36|21 pages


Life After Death Row