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Peer Review

Death Penalty Information Center

by Richard Dieter


Overall Numeric Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Feb 04, 2011 by Criminal Justice Editorial Board
Overview: The Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) is a non-profit organization serving the media and the public with analysis and information on issues concerning capital punishment. The Center was founded in 1990 and prepares in-depth reports, issues press releases, conducts briefings for journalists, and serves as a resource to those working on this issue. This is an excellent resource for Criminal Justice classes as well as others that are studying the death penalty.
Type of Material: Collection
Recommended Uses: This website can be used both in and out of class. It is an excellent resource for research papers, class discussion, and debates. This is a good source of factual information related to the death penalty.
Technical Requirements: The DPIC has many reports available in the portable document format (PDF) which will require Adobe Reader. The site also includes flash videos which will require the appropriate software to view them and podcasts which will require the appropriate to listen to them. The DPIC utilizes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and RSS to share and make information available. The DPIC also offers an email subscription service where weekly emails are forwarded that contain information and news related to the death penalty.
Identify Major Learning Goals: Provide background information on the Death Penalty state by state, including law, usage, and statistics. Provide information on US Supreme Court decisions impacting the death penalty. Provide statistical information on the death penalty. Provide information from law schools regarding the use of the death penalty. Provide information for debate on specific issue such as execution of mentally ill people, juveniles, foreign nationals, etc. Provide information on death penalty in other countries.
Target Student Population: * High school students (The DPIC has a student research page that is oriented toward high school students and provides material on the death penalty in an appropriate manner). *Undergraduate and graduate students (The material is especially appropriate for those studying topics related to corrections and punishment, introductory criminal justice, and in many specialized areas of sociology).
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Basic use of computer and the Internet is all that should be required to use this site. A basic knowledge of the criminal justice system and how courts and corrections work might be helpful for a more complete understanding of the material and issues involved.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This website provides a great deal of material and appears to be up to date and is certainly relevant. It is an extensive collection of information on the death penalty and associated topics.
Concerns: Some material is dated and appears that some information on the DPIC website is updated yearly. While this may not be unusual for many types of reference material, current and up-to-date material regarding the death penalty may be necessary depending upon its use.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This is an excellent resource for those studying the death penalty. All sides of the argument are presented as well as factual information.
Concerns: While the material included on the DPIC is varied and includes many different perspectives, there is a great deal of material presented by the DPIC that is against the death penalty as a form of punishment.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: A very easy to use website with video material as well as reading material.
Concerns: None.

Other Issues and Comments: The DPIC provides a wide range of material on the death penalty and associated subjects and would be a useful source of information that criminal justice, sociology, and political science instructors would find a welcome resource for them and their students.