November 29, 2010
Retired Associate Supreme Court Justice's Book Review on America’s Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition
"Garland’s argument is historical and contemporary. Chapters 2–6 situate the modern American death penalty within US and European histories of capital punishment. On both continents, capital punishment has roots in gruesome and public spectacles: unspeakable torture and postmortem desecrations of offenders’ remains designed, respectively, to maximize suffering and exalt the omnipotence of the sovereign. In Europe, the greater availability both of deportation and of prisons led to reductions in executions, and new techniques like the guillotine made executions somewhat more humane. Eventually, in the modern period, where it survives, fundamental changes in the timing and character of executions have profoundly altered its retributive and deterrent potential."