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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

Qualities of Mercy

Justice, Punishment, and Discretion

Qualities of Mercy deals with the history of mercy, the remittance of punishments in the criminal law. The writers probe the discretionary use of power and inquire how it has been exercised to spare convicted criminals from the full might of the law. Drawing on the history of England, Canada, and Australia in periods when both capital and corporal punishment were still practised, they show that contrary to common assumptions the past was not a time of unmitigated terror and they ask what inspired restraint in punishment. They conclude that the ability to decide who lived and died -- through the exercise or denial of mercy -- reinforced the power structure.

198 pages

Table of Contents

Foreword / Douglas Hay


Introduction / Carolyn Strange

1. Civilized People Don't Want to See That Sort of Thing: The Decline of Physical Punishment in London, 1760-1840 / Greg T. Smith

2. In Place of Death: Transportation, Penal Practices, and the English State, 1770-1830 / Simon Devereaux

3. `Harshness and Forbearance': The Politics of Pardons and the Upper Canada Rebellion / Barry Wright

4. Savage Mercy: Native Culture and the Modification of Capital Punishment in Nineteenth-Century British Columbia / Tina Loo

5. Discretionary Justice: Political Culture and the Death Penalty in New South Wales and Ontario, 1890-1920 / Carolyn Strange

Punishment in Late-Twentieth-Century Canada: An Afterword / Anthony N. Doob

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