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December 2, 2005

Capital reading to mark a "grand" milestone

As detailed in this news report, North Carolina carried out the 1000th execution of the modern US death penalty era and execution 1001 is scheduled for this evening in South Carolina.  One way to reflect on this milestone is to keep up with some of the latest academic literature on the death penalty, such as:

UPDATE:  Interestingly, as detailed in this AP report, the White House decided to mark the grand milestone with a statement that President Bush strongly supports the death penalty in the belief that "ultimately it helps save innocent lives."

December 2, 2005 at 12:00 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Looks like we have a new question in your "law nerd" version of Trivial Pursuit: Who was the 1000th person executed in the modern death penalty era? Answer: Kenneth Lee Boyd.

Although before we print up the card, out of respect, I think it merits mentioning that he would "hate to be remembered as that." See http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/12/02/boyd.execution.ap/index.html.

Posted by: DEJ | Dec 2, 2005 12:45:31 PM

If you can name the tenth, or the 100th, or the 500th person executed -- no research -- then this topic is worth pondering, even for law nerds. But I'll bet that you can't, and so the significance of the round number "1,000" is exactly another round number: 0. I enjoy the blog very much, but the increased hand-wringinga on this blog over capital punishment is, frankly, not very enlightening. There is no legal, philosophical, moral, or even mathematical significance to the number "1,000." There is, however, political significance to news stories like these, and the writers of the stories should be sure to note their political bias:

"Even though this news story does not constitute news (in what sense is the 1,000th occurence of something "new"?), I am personally opposed to the death penalty. Therefore, I am using this occasion to reiterate, for you, my opposition to the death penalty. You are (insert true feelings): [mean-spirited][stupid][ignorant][immoral][un-Christian][un-Catholic] for disagreeing with me on this topic, so I intend to continue to press this issue until you give up your position, or the courts impose my political position on you."

Obviously, I strongly believe in everyone's right to speak their mind and push their political agenda on the rest of the world. But I hope that it stays a political agenda, and not a legal one.

Mark

Posted by: Mark | Dec 2, 2005 1:20:28 PM

You make a number of interesting points, Mark, although keep in mind that this blog is avowedly about "Sentencing Law AND POLICY." As evidenced by the work of politicians and the media (not to mention the Supreme Court), the death penalty is clearly THE leading issue of sentencing POLICY for many involved in both law and politics.

If you are a regular reader, you likely know that I dislike the undue attention paid to the death penalty. And, FWIW, I report on DP issues A LOT less than does the mainstream media. Nevertheless, because there has been so much attention to these issues of late, I've been caught up in all the action.

Posted by: Doug B. | Dec 2, 2005 1:53:01 PM

Doug,

My post was NOT intended to criticize you. I greatly appreciate the blog, and I strongly believe that you, rightly, post what's important in the sentencing world as you deem fit. My criticism was primarily directed at the general tenor of the "1,000 milestone" news articles, not your reporting or comment regarding them.

I appreciate the fact that you are interested in, and report on (and comment regarding), the policy aspects of sentencing. My point -- again, not directed at you -- was that I hope that we strenuously bifurcate the "law" part from the "policy" part of the death-penalty debate. My greater concern is for the principle of self-government, and I fear that death-penalty opponents don't place sufficient stock in the importance of self-government.

To all -- including specifically Professor Berman, if applicable -- who read my post as anything more than a plea on a general subject, I apologize.

Mark

Posted by: Mark | Dec 5, 2005 10:52:40 AM

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Posted by: richard | Jun 26, 2007 2:40:24 PM

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In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB