DeathQuest : An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Capital Punishment in the United States book cover
5th Edition

An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Capital Punishment in the United States

ISBN 9781138940888
Published October 24, 2016 by Routledge
593 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This fifth edition of the first true textbook on the death penalty engages the reader with a full account of the arguments and issues surrounding capital punishment. The book begins with the history of the death penalty from colonial to modern times, and then examines the moral and legal arguments for and against capital punishment. It also provides an overview of major Supreme Court decisions and describes the legal process behind the death penalty. In addressing these issues, the author reviews recent developments in death penalty law and procedure, including ramifications of newer case law, such as that regarding using lethal injection as a method of execution. The author’s motivation has been to understand what motivates the "deathquest" of the American people, leading a large percentage of the public to support the death penalty. The book educates readers so that whatever their death penalty positions are, they are informed opinions.

Table of Contents




About the Author


Chapter 1 History of the Death Penalty in the United States: The Pre-Modern Period

Chapter 2 Capital Punishment and the Supreme Court: The Pre-Modern Period

Chapter 3 The Challenge to Capital Punishment’s Legality

Chapter 4 Capital Punishment and the Supreme Court: The Modern Period

Chapter 5 The Death Penalty at the Federal Level, in the Military, and Globally

Chapter 6 Cruel and Unusual Punishment, Death Row, and Methods of Execution

Chapter 7 General Deterrence and the Death Penalty

Chapter 8 Future Dangerousness, Incapacitation, and Economic Costs of Capital Punishment

Chapter 9 Miscarriages of Justice and the Death Penalty

Chapter 10 Arbitrariness and Discrimination in the Administration of the Death Penalty

Chapter 11 Retribution, Religion, and Capital Punishment

Chapter 12 American Death Penalty Opinion

Appendix A


Subject Index


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Robert M. Bohm is a Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. A prolific author and speaker, Professor Bohm’s work has appeared in numerous publications. He is a frequent presenter and speaker at meetings and seminars of a variety of professional associations, including the American Society of Criminology, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, and the Southern Criminal Justice Association. Professor Bohm is a past-president (1992-93) and Fellow (1999) of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, from which he has also received the Founder’s Award (2001) and the Bruce Smith, Sr. Award (2008).


Bohm's DeathQuest is by far the best text on capital punishment available; no other is near as thorough and complete; no other provides as deep a review of all of the relevant issues and topics of debate; no other provides as exhaustive a review of the research literature nor of the relevant case law. All other texts are competing for the second rung on the ladder for DeathQuest occupies the top rung without any challengers.

--John Cochran, University of South Florida

DeathQuest provides an in-depth introduction to the American death penalty for the novice and a helpful resource for the knowledgeable. At a time when capital punishment is drawing increasing scrutiny and criticism, the topic deserves the careful attention provided by this extremely helpful compendium.

--Carol Steiker, Harvard Law School

This is a clear and comprehensive approach to capital punishment—it addresses basic facts about the death penalty including: the history of its use in this country, landmark Supreme Court cases, a global perspective, analysis of execution methods, and arguments surrounding deterrence, economic costs, innocence, racial discrimination, arbitrariness, retribution, religion, and public opinion. As such, it provides students with the foundation for an impressive breadth of knowledge regarding capital punishment.

--Talia Harmon, Niagara University

This book is a compelling and comprehensive analysis of capital punishment written in an engaging style. Bohm does a masterful job of presenting and explaining court cases, the research, and the many difficult questions raised by our system of capital punishment. The result is that this book will make you think about your attitude toward capital punishment and by the end, you will better understand both sides of the issue.  

--Marla Sandys, Associate Professor, Indiana University