When Justice Means Death: The Death Penalty Moratorium Movement

Michelle Hughes Miller, Southern Illinois Univ. at Carbondale

ABSTRACT
Amid much publicity, several U.S. governors and state legislatures have recently considered or implemented edeath penalty moratoriums. Although the expressed purpose of these moratoriums vary from research hiatuses to ideology, the expanding nature of these considerations implies a growing death penalty moratorium movement. To assess the early stages of the development of this movement, I present descriptive information on the status of death penalty moratorium actions in each state, emphasizing legislative, judicial, gubernatorial, and media-based activities. Further, I also present the political, economic, and justice context of the state-specific debates. Finally, I argue that the movement toward contraction of the death penalty as embodied in the moratorium debate is in direct contrast with the growth of death-eligible crimes as embodied in death penalty legislation. This dialectic has particular implications for the future of the death penalty moratorium movement.

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Updated 05/20/2006