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Why has Western Europe abolished capital punishment, while the United States continues to execute prisoners? Who were the leaders of Western Europe's successful abolition campaigns, and what strategies did they use? What are the prospects for international law efforts to abolish capital punishment?
Drawing on research in multiple disciplines and many foreign-language sources, this book proposes answers to these questions. Movements to abolish the death penalty cannot be understood without a grasp of the dynamics of public opinion on capital punishment, which is driven not by rational consideration but by what cognitive psychologists call 'social intuitions,' deeply rooted attitudes which are resistant to change. European death-penalty abolitionists quickly realized the futility of trying to change public opinion on a mass scale, and instead devised strategies to accomplish abolition despite lingering public support for the death penalty. Pointing to the importance of political structures that allowed European abolitionists to bypass public opinion, this study assesses the prospects of the 'European model' of abolition in global perspective.
'Ending the Death Penalty is a tour de force. Beautifully written and meticulously argued, Hammel's book is indispensable reading for anyone interested in the death penalty or contemporary issues of criminal justice. This book is destined to become a classic in the field.' - David Dow, University Distinguished Professor, University of Houston Law Center, USA