While most western democracies have renounced the death penalty, capital punishment enjoys vast and growing support in the United States. A significant and vocal minority, however, continues to oppose it. Against Capital Punishment is the first full account of anti-death penalty activism in America during the years since the ten-year moratorium on executions ended. Building on in-depth interviews with movement leaders and the records of key abolitionist organizations, this work traces the struggle against the pro-death penalty backlash that has steadily gained momentum since the 1970s. It reviews the conservative turn in the courts which, over the last two decades, has forced death penalty opponents to rely less on the litigation strategies that once served them well. It describes their efforts to mount a broad-based educational and political assault on what they see as the most cruel, racist, ineffective, and expensive manifestation of a criminal justice system gone wrong. Despite the efforts of death-penalty opponents, executions in the United States are on the increase.
Against Capital Punishment diagnoses the reasons for the failure to mobilize widespread opposition to executions, and assesses the prospects for opposition to capital punishment in the future of the United States.