America Without the Death Penalty:
States Leading the Way

John F. Galliher, Larry W. Koch, David Patrick Keys, and Teresa J. Guess
Northeastern University Press, 2005
280 p.


galliher front jacket for web

>> Read online

>> Download entire publication (PDF)

>> Purchase print copy (Coming soon!)

Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Michigan’s Continuing Abolition of the Death Penalty and the Conceptual Components of Symbolic Legislation
Chapter 3: The Death Penalty and Social Policy in Wisconsin
Chapter 4: The Power of History: Death Penalty Abolition in Maine
Chapter 5: Abolition and Attempted Reinstatement in Minnesota, 1911-1923
Chapter 6: Un-American Activities in North Dakota: The Continuing Abolition of Capital Punishment
Chapter 7: The History of Death Penalty Abolition in Alaska
Chapter 8: Colonialism and Capital Punishment: Race, Class, and Legal Symbolism in Hawaiian Executions, 1826-1990
Chapter 9: Death Penalty Abolition, Reinstatement, and Abolition in Iowa
Chapter 10: The Life and Death of the Death Penalty in West Virginia
Chapter 11: Summary and Conclusions
Epilogue: Abolition in the Courts
Appendix: Data Collection Methods
Notes / Bibliography / Index
Permanent URL:


A provocative study, with a new preface, of the abolition of capital punishment in the twelve American states that have outlawed it.

In 2000, Governor George Ryan of Illinois, a Republican and a supporter of the death penalty, declared a moratorium on executions in his state. In 2003 he commuted the death sentences of all Illinois prisoners on death row. Ryan contended that the application of the death penalty in Illinois had been arbitrary and unfair, and he ignited a new round of debate over the appropriateness of execution. Nationwide surveys indicate that the number of Americans who favor the death penalty is declining. As the struggle over capital punishment rages on, twelve states and the District of Columbia have taken bold measures to eliminate the practice. This landmark study is the first to examine the history and motivations of those jurisdictions that abolished capital punishment and have resisted the move to reinstate death penalty statutes.


>> Criminal Defense Weekly: “A necessary addition to one’s library on capital punishments and incarceration…instructive for those working toward the abolishment of the death penalty nationwide.”

>> Library Journal: “This work makes an interesting, carefully researched and timely addition to death-penalty scholarship.”

>> Political Science Quarterly: “The strength of this book is in providing a much needed history of abolition in those states that do not execute…[and] interesting and often illuminating descriptions of the history and politics of the death penalty in states that have learned to live without it.”

>> Punishment & Society:America Without the Death Penalty should be read by all serious students of death penalty politics, and deserves to be considered as a resource in upper-level courses on capital punishment, sociology of law and criminal justice.”

>> Rhetoric & Public Affairs: “Galliher and his coauthors have provided students of the death penalty a remarkably dense set of data with which to pursue further analyses of the various ways capital punishment and abolition affect the lived experience of Americans in diverse settings.”