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White Mercy: A Study of the Death Penalty in South Africa
Robert Turrell presents a novel approach to the study of capital punishment in 20th-century South Africa. White Mercy focuses on official acts of mercy rather than on miscarriages of justice. Turrell bases his absorbing narrative on a thorough investigation of government statistics, court testimony, and judges' reports. He shows that racism and sexism...
Robert Turrell presents a novel approach to the study of capital punishment in 20th-century South Africa. White Mercy focuses on official acts of mercy rather than on miscarriages of justice. Turrell bases his absorbing narrative on a thorough investigation of government statistics, court testimony, and judges' reports. He shows that racism and sexism profoundly influenced death-penalty cases, but not in equal ways. Africans, whom white rulers considered the weaker race, and women, whom men called the weaker sex, entered a legal realm that both promoted preordained cultural difference and disproportionately granted clemency to females convicted of murder. What will perhaps surprise many readers is that a number of condemned white men went to the gallows because the court believed they exhibited the incorrigible instincts of the weaker race. White Mercy stands alone in South African scholarship as the only book-length history of capital punishment. It is also a pioneering study in the field of gender studies. Turrell's sharp analysis and engrossing vignettes will be welcomed by students in graduate seminars and upper-level undergraduate courses covering a range of themes from race relations and gender studies, to the death penalty and constitutional developments in the United States and South Africa.
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