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SKAPE: Research


Lecture by Prof Frank R. Baumgrtner

Lecture by Prof Frank R. Baumgrtner: The Coming End of the Death Penalty in the United States
Speaker: Prof Frank R. Baumgartner # University of North Carolina
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Date and Time
26th May 2016 17:00 - 26th May 2016 18:30
Lecture Theatre G0.3, 50 George Square - The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception in G0.2, 50 George Square from 6.30 – 7.30pm

Prof Baumgartner will give a lecture on : The Coming End of the Death Penalty in the United States

The U.S. is the last remaining western nation to carry our judicial executions.  Use of the death penalty peaked in 1935 and declined dramatically until there were no executions at all in the U.S. between 1965 and 1977.  However, the period since the re-enactment of capital punishment in 1976 has seen a resurgence.  In the “modern” period of the U.S. death penalty (that is, since 1976), the U.S. has gone against the grain of every other western nation, putting itself in the company of China, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam with its continued use of the penalty.  While the death penalty came back relatively quickly after its 1976 resurrection, it has been waning for the past 20 years.  Executions peaked in 1996; death sentences in 1995.  Growing concerns about the possibility of executing the innocent, difficulties in importing the drugs mandated for use in many states, excessive costs associated with appeals, increasing delays and warehousing inmates on death rows for 30 and more years, and other factors have generated a powerful movement toward abolition.  Notably absent from this momentum is a broad public distaste for the penalty.  While public opinion has moved away from its previous levels of support, there is no powerful abolitionist movement dominating the nation’s headlines.  Rather, a confluence of factors, some associated with practical problems of the administration of the penalty rather than abstract issues of morality, appear to be spelling the demise of the death penalty.  Based on extensive new research on public opinion, cost, delays, the torture element of botched and delayed execution, and innocence, this talk reviews the recent history of the “modern” U.S. death penalty and explains why its days, too, may be numbered.

Frank R. Baumgartner is the Richard J. Richardson Distinguished Professor of Political Science at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

He is a winner of the American Political Science Association’s Samuel J. Eldersveld Award for Career Achievement in 2011 and a current Vice President of the association. Frank’s work includes several award-winning books, including Agendas and Instability in American Politics (University of Chicago Press 199, winner of the APSA Organized Section on Public Policy and the Aaron Wildavsky Award). In 2008, his book The Decline of the Death Penalty and the Discovery of Innocence (Cambridge University Press, 2008, with Suzanna De Boef and Amber E. Boydstun) was awarded the Gladys M. Kammerer Award by the American Political Science Association for the best book on US national policy. In 2009, the University of Chicago Press published Lobbying and Policy Change: Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why (with Jeffrey M. Berry, Marie Hojnacki, David C. Kimball, and Beth L. Leech) won the Leon D. Epstein Outstanding Book Award from the APSA Section on Political Organizations and Parties in 2010.

Frank founded and co-le the highly influential US Policy Agendas Project together with colleagues Bryan D Jones and John Wilkerson, which has now been extended to a major cross-national comparative project, the Comparative Agendas Project. Frank’s current research examines issues of race, with particular focus on the death penalty and on traffic stops. His work has generated considerable media coverage and is engaging policymakers to address the problem of racial profiling.

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