The American death penalty is a punishment by, for, and about men: Both historically and today, most capital prosecutors are men, most capital defendants are men, and killing itself is strongly coded male. Yet despite—or perhaps because of—the overwhelming maleness of the institution of capital punishment, the subject of masculinity is largely absent from legal discourse about the death penalty. This Article addresses that gap in the legal discourse by applying the insights of masculinities theory, an offshoot of feminist theory, to capital prosecutors’ closing arguments. This Article hypothesizes that capital prosecutors’ masculinity is strongly influenced both by white Southern ideologies around manhood and by the hypermasculinity common within law enforcement. In turn, these ideologies influence capital prosecutors’ sentencing phase closing arguments.
Pamela A. Wilkins,
Stories That Kill: Masculinity and Capital Prosecutors' Closing Arguments,
71 Clev. St. L. Rev.
available at https://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clevstlrev/vol71/iss4/8