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Hutton Honors College

 — Indiana University

COLL-C 104: The Death Penalty in America
Professor Marla Sandys*
Section 30812 TuTh 2:30pm-3:45pm CEDRC 112


The death penalty represents the tip of the iceberg in our system of criminal justice. Of the nearly 2.5 million individuals incarcerated in this country, less than one-half of one percent is housed on death rows. A death sentence, however, is the most extreme sanction that our society can impose on an individual (there is some debate about this, as will be discussed in class). As such, it is reserved, allegedly, for those who have committed the most brutal, heinous acts: This class, in many respects, is devoted to discovering whether this is an accurate portrayal of our current system of capital punishment.

More specifically, we will study the application of the death penalty in the United States: What crimes are eligible for a sentence of death? Who is most likely to receive a sentence of death? Should a person who is mentally ill be eligible for a death sentence? Who decides whether a sentence of death is appropriate? Is there arbitrariness associated with the sentencing decisions in capital cases? Racism? Why are people in favor of, or opposed to, capital punishment? Are innocent people executed, and if so, what should we do about it? These are the types of questions that will guide our discussions throughout the semester.

Section 4371
Section 4371