The Death Penalty

The Oxford Centre for Criminology has a long tradition of research on the death penalty, begun by the former Director Professor Roger Hood and continued by him and Professor Carolyn Hoyle.

Professor Hoyle and Professor Hood's 5th edition of 'The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective' (OUP, 2015) provides legal and social scientific analysis of the movement towards global abolition of the death penalty and of its administration in retentionist countries.  

While their work is international in its reach, increasingly both Professors Hood and Hoyle have begun to focus on Asia as a site of many death sentences and executions, fewer due process protections and retention for crimes that are not typically thought of as the most serious. Hood and Hoyle’s work, funded in part by the EU, has had a significant impact on reforms in China (see the Impact Case study ‘The Death Penalty in China – the road to reform’) and has been influential in various ways in Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam. A Spanish translation of Hood & Hoyle's The Death Penalty was published in September 2017, and a Chinese translation will be published in late 2018.

The Oxford team works closely with partner agencies, particularly the Death Penalty Project, and has held knowledge exchange events with Reprieve, Amnesty International, Amicus, and Penal Reform International, as well as other not-for-profit organisations. Professor Hoyle worked with National Law University Delhi, and the Death Penalty Project, London on an elite opinion survey on the death penalty of retired Supreme Court judges. The Report, Matters of Judgment, was published in 2017. A similar study was conducted in Bangladesh with the University of Dhaka, and will be published shortly. 

In 2018, Oxford Criminology and our Partner agency, the London-based, Death Penalty Project, established a death penalty research internship programme to allow current MSc and DPhil Criminology students to engage in research that will benefit death penalty scholarship worldwide. 

Professor Hoyle is currently carrying out a pilot study in Malaysia of 'Foreign Nationals at Risk of Capital Punishment', funded by the British Academy and the University of Oxford John Fell Fund, which will lay the groundwork for similar studies across South and Southeast Asia.

The following two links are Death Penalty thematic briefing papers both co-authored by the centre: Co- authored with Carolyn Hoyle; Co-authored with Lucy Harry (DPhil student at the Centre)

For information on conferences, presentations, and publications, please follow the Centre for Criminology’s blog and twitter feed: @OxfordCrim, and Professor Carolyn Hoyle's twitter feed: @CarolynHoyle1