Kiss of Death: America's Love Affair with the Death Penalty


Kiss of Death: America's Love Affair with the Death Penalty



Few issues provoke such intense feelings and strongly held views as does capital punishment. In this text, John D. Bessler skillfully interweaves the powerful life stories of death row prisoners, his own experiences as a pro-bono attorney on death penalty cases in Texas, and historical perspective to persuade the reader that state-sanctioned executions must be abolished in the US. Bessler's narrative asks if capital punishment has less to do with crime and more to do with vengeance and swift retribution - an eye-for-an-eye, a tooth-for-a-tooth. He argues convincingly that the death penalty is just another form of violence in an already too-violent society, and contends that sentencing capital offenders to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is the best way to meet the needs of public safety while breaking the self-destructive cycle of violence. Placing the US's complex, ever-changing relationship with capital punishment within legal, cultural and historical contexts, Bessler dispels myths about the death penalty and addresses such subjects as racial discrimination in capital cases, wrongful convictions, the prominent role of guns in American life and in homicides, the issue of deterrence versus brutalization, the impact of executions on corrections officers and others in the criminal justice system, and the worldwide movement toward abolition. Also included is a call for televised executions as a means of exposing the reality of capital punishment to the public. "Kiss of Death" brings a fresh yet reasoned approach to an emotionally charged and contentious debate. It attempts to show why people should care - in fact, should be outraged - that government-sponsored killings are still taking place today.



Publication Date



Northeastern University Press


Boston, MA


capital punishment, death penalty, death row, execution, United States, US


Law | Law Enforcement and Corrections



Kiss of Death: America's Love Affair with the Death Penalty