The role of capital punishment in America has been criticised by those for and against the death penalty, by the judiciary, academics, the media and by prison personnel. This book demonstrates that it is the inconsistent and often incoherent jurisprudence of the United States Supreme Court which accounts for a system so lacking in public confidence. Using case studies, Kenneth Williams examines issues such as jury selection, ineffective assistance of counsel, the role of race and claims of innocence which affect the Court's decisions and how these decisions are played out in the lower courts, often an inmate's last recourse before execution. Discussing international treaties and their lack of impact on capital punishment in America, this book has international appeal and makes an important contribution to legal scholarship. It also provides a unique understanding of the dynamics of an alarmingly problematic system and will be valuable to those interested in human rights and criminal justice.
Kenneth Williams is Professor of Law at South Texas College of Law, USA and is a national authority on capital punishment. He has taught and published extensively on the subject, and currently represents several death row inmates in the state of Texas.
'Ken Williams shines light into the dark corners of the capital punishment debate by focusing on the procedural nightmare. He takes readers on a whirlwind tour of the system's failures, showing starkly how bad lawyering, racial discrimination, and shoddy science, for example, can mean the difference between life and death.' Susan D. Rozelle, Stetson University College of Law, USA 'Thirty-five years after the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment, the death penalty is more dysfunctional than ever. From racial discrimination, to incompetent lawyers, to wrongful convictions, Williams offers a guided tour of the Supreme Court's failure to ensure a just system that executes only the most deserving.' Adam Gershowitz, University of Houston Law Center, USA 'Williams has given us a powerful call to arms aimed at the judiciary. His book is brilliantly written, thorough, and a powerful normative appeal to reform the death penalty process.' Andrew E. Taslitz, Howard University School of Law, USA/Co-Reporter, The Death Penalty Initiative of the Constitution Project ’... Williams convincingly shows that the death penalty has been, and continues to be, largely dysfunctional, so that it would be the sheerest coincidence if those executed were indeed most deserving of death.’ Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books