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The issue of the death penalty, like abortion, deeply divides this country. To most Americans, the answer to the question of whether the death penalty is unavoidable is obvious and beyond debate. It is “one of the most complex, emotional, controversial, and important public policy issues of our time.” American attitudes on the death penalty “have been relatively stable for almost a decade.” Two out of three Americans support capital punishment. A Gallup poll conducted in 2006 asked respondents how they would decide “between death or life in prison without parole.” Forty-eight percent of the respondents favored life without parole to capital punishment. Too often, however, strongly held opinions on this topic are based on emotionally charged slogans rather than a reasoned consideration of the issue’s complexities.
Russell Murphy’s book, Voices of the Death Penalty Debate: A Citizen’s Guide to Capital Punishment (Voices), is a desperately needed book to educate citizens around the world on the difficult public policy issues raised by capital punishment. The book presents multiple theoretical, ideological, sociological, and personal perspectives on the death penalty debate. Capital punishment continues to be one of the most passionate political disputes of our time, even though the number of death penalty sentences has been reduced by fifty percent in recent years. . .