At the start of the twenty-first century, America is in the midst of a profound national reconsideration of the death penalty. There has been a dramatic decline in the number of people being sentenced to death as well as executed, exonerations have become common, and the number of states abolishing the death penalty is on the rise. The essays featured in The Road to Abolition? track this shift in attitudes toward capital punishment, and consider whether or not the death penalty will ever be abolished in America.
The interdisciplinary group of experts gathered by Charles J. Ogletree Jr., and Austin Sarat ask and attempt to answer the hard questions that need to be addressed if the death penalty is to be abolished. Will the death penalty end only to be replaced with life in prison without parole? Will life without the possibility of parole become, in essence, the new death penalty? For abolitionists, might that be a pyrrhic victory? The contributors discuss how the death penalty might be abolished, with particular emphasis on the current debate over lethal injection as a case study on why and how the elimination of certain forms of execution might provide a model for the larger abolition of the death penalty.