A groundbreaking new book by Suffolk University Law Professor Russell G. Murphy explores all aspects of capital punishment by including not only the views of experts, lawyers and public policy-makers, but also voices that are usually not heard in the debate – those of ordinary citizens.
Voices of the Death Penalty Debate: A Citizen’s Guide to Capital Punishment both educates and challenges readers; even those firmly convinced of their position for or against capital punishment will find themselves challenged by its arguments.
Murphy's book does not aim to change opinions but to ensure that the public takes a position after thorough consideration.
“I want readers of the book to form an opinion about capital punishment that is informed by accurate information,” said Murphy. “Voices is carefully and specifically designed to be a book that educates rather than advocates.”
Murphy has been personally touched by the question of capital punishment. In 1998, the sister of a close friend was murdered by her husband and he advised the family on legal issues.
He was asked to testify during hearings in 2004 and 2005 called by the New York State Assembly on whether the death penalty should be reinstated in New York. There, he was astounded at the depth and breadth of the testimony from more than 170 witnesses – people who ranged from the relatives of murder victims to former Death Row inmates later exonerated.
Murphy compiled high points of the hearings to write Voices of the Death Penalty Debate, while adding chapters on facts, figures and other background material. He purposely avoids technical data, lengthy footnotes, and legalese. Indirectly, he asks the reader, “Are you sure about what you believe?”
“On a matter that is literally one of life and death, a citizen should be able to give reasons for supporting or opposing capital punishment,” Murphy said. “Anyone who reads this book will be able to do so.”