One of the most hotly debated topics in the United States is the death penalty. Some people think its a fair and just punishment. They say that people who commit murder deserve the ultimate punishment - execution. Other people strongly disagree. They say the U.S. death penalty system is flawed, unfair, and unethical. Making sense of the issues involves looking at the facts, studying the statistics, examining the laws, and listening to views on both sides of the debate. It also means asking tough questions: Why do some killers get the death penalty and not others? Does the threat of the death penalty prevent people from committing murder? Are African American murderers more likely to get a death sentence than white murderers? Has a state ever executed an innocent person by mistake? To answer these questions, this book looks at U.S. Supreme Court cases and state laws. It provides the opinions and perspectives of religious leaders, judges, presidents, and professors on both sides of the issue. It also presents the perspectives of people closely involved in the death penalty system, such as inmates on death row, prosecuting attorneys, jurors in murder cases, and family members of murder victims. Supplemented with quotes, anecdotes, and discussions from the pages of USA TODAY, The Nations No. 1 Newspaper, this book will broaden your understanding of all sides of the issue and help you form your own opinion, either for or against the death penalty.