Capital Punishment, the Inevitability of Caprice and Mistake

By Charle S L. Black Jr. | Go to book overview
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Chapter 2

Mistake and
Arbitrariness—An
Overview

I HAVE SAID that the central thesis of this book is that the problems of mistake and caprice are ineradicable in the administration of the death penalty. In a narrow sense, then, I am saying that these seemingly more "precise" statutes, just referred to, do not cure the fundamental defect that was the basis of the Supreme Court's 1972 decision in the Furman case, outlawing capital punishment as it has been administered. Though the truth of this assertion can be established from the new statutes alone (see Chapter 7), I want to make my case in a wider frame of reference. This widening will consist in opening to the reader's view the entire series of decisions made by the legal system as a person goes the road from freedom to the electric chair. Let us take an overview of these.

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