Talk by Joseph Bessette, Department of Government, Claremont McKenna College

Date: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Time: 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm
Location: Kravis Center

“Who Deserves to Die?  
Does the Capital Punishment System in the United States Choose the Worst Offenders?”

Claremont McKenna College
Kravis Center, Third Floor, Board Room 367

Lunch will be provided.
Seating is limited.
Please RSVP to by Monday Feb 25

In 1972 (Furman v. Georgia) the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the death penalty as then applied in the United States because of its arbitrary and capricious application.  According to Justice Potter Stewart, those sentenced to death were “a capriciously selected random handful” of all those convicted of capital crimes.  Because judges and juries operated without legal guidance in deciding who deserved to die, receiving a death sentence was like being “struck by lightning.”  Four decades later, critics of capital punishment insist that not much has changed, despite the transformation of state capital punishment statutes after the Furman decision.  Professor Joseph Bessette will present data from his large-scale empirical study of those sentenced to death in the United States to assess whether the nation’s capital punishment laws and practices act as a filter that selects the worst offenders for the ultimate punishment or more like a lottery that chooses an unlucky few.
For information and more in depth summary of Prof. Joseph Bessette’s talk, please click here.