Death Penalty in America, Legal Studies 485, Spring 2003
· Learn the history of the death penalty in the United States
· Analyze empirical data about the death penalty
· Study U.S. Supreme Court decisions concerning the death penalty
· Consider political and moral arguments about the death penalty
· Develop the reasoning underlying your opinion of the death penalty
· Improve your critical thinking and writing skills
Increase your web browsing skills
Class attendance: Because this course requires the active participation of all members, attendance at all classes is expected and required. If you have any absences, excused or unexcused, you must make up the work promptly (no later than 2 weeks). If you fail to make up the class, your final grade will be lowered by 2.5 points for each missed class.
Missed classes: In order to make up a missed class, you must follow these steps:
1. Do all the reading due on the day of the missed class.
2. Review any class notes which may be posted on the course website. If there are no notes posted, contact a member of your group and get his/her notes.
3. Review the small group discussion questions posted on the course website. Write out the answers.
4. After you have read the material for the missed class, reviewed the class notes, and answered the discussion questions, then come and see me during office hours, Wednesday, 1:30 4:30, and by appointment.
REQUIRED COURSE MATERIALS
Available at Jeffrey Amherst College Store, 26 S. Prospect Street, Amherst:
The Death Penalty in America: Current Controversies, Hugo Adam Bedau, ed., New York: Oxford, 1998
Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the
Death Penalty in the United States, Helen Prejean, New York:
Random House, 1994
Available at CopyCat Print Shop (next to Bertuccis)
Your grade will be determined as follows:
10% Class participation
05% Internet assignments
60% Three review essays (20% each) March 4, April 1, April 29
25% Final essay, due May 19
Class participation. Class participation is based on attendance, evidence of preparation, and participation in small and large group discussion.
Internet assignments. There is an abundance of factual information as well as propaganda about the death penalty on the Internet. Each week, you will explore one or two websites. At the end of each section of the course, you will write a two-page review of the websites. These reviews are due on Feb. 27, March 27, and May 13.
Review essays: The three review essays give you the opportunity to organize and synthesize information on discrete topics that we will be studying in some depth:
Due March 4 An Overview: Whos on death row, What does the public want, and Is the death penalty a deterrent?
Due April 1 Death Penalty Jurisprudence
Due April 29
Systemic Problems in the Administration of
Final essay: The final essay, Death Penalty in America, brings together everything you have read, discussed, and thought about over the course of the semester. It is a presentation of your views on the death penalty and the justifications for your position. It is due on May 19.
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