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Imprisoned by the PastWarren McCleskey and the American Death Penalty$
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Jeffrey L. Kirchmeier

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199967933

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199967933.001.0001

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Escaping from Imprisonment of the Past

Escaping from Imprisonment of the Past

Chapter 23 Escaping from Imprisonment of the Past
Imprisoned by the Past

Jeffrey L. Kirchmeier

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers how the federal government and many states retain the death penalty because they are “imprisoned by the past” and stuck with capital punishment as a remnant of history. But many of the people responsible for the laws that allowed Warren McCleskey’s execution, such as former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter, have broken with the past and changed their mind about the death penalty. Cases, such as the execution of Troy Davis, continue to raise questions about capital punishment. Supreme Court justices—such as Justice John Paul Stevens—and others who changed minds about the modern death penalty provide some lessons for the future, as does the life and death of Warren McCleskey.

Keywords:   Warren McCleskey, capital punishment, death penalty, changed minds, Jimmy Carter, punishment history, Justice Stevens, Troy Davis

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