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December 12, 2005

Pondering the "New life in death penalty debate"

This commentary piece from a college newspaper, entitled "New life in death penalty debate," effectively highlights all the recent capital sentencing developments — from the high-profile debate over Tookie Williams to the 1000th execution to new evidence of innocents having been executed  — that have the media and commentators buzzing about the death penalty.  More examples of the capital buzz can be found in dueling commentaries here and here in USA Today and in the dozens of death penalty articles at Google News each day and in this archive.

But while I have been talking up signs of a changed politics and new culture around the death penalty(see recent posts here and here and here and here), I cannot help but doubt that this latest round of debate will itself dramatically impact capital sentencing law and policy.  My sense is that movement toward and away from the death penalty tends now to be the product of slow shifts in the personal attitudes of, and the political atmosphere surrounding, key capital decision-makers.  All the recent debate over death certainly makes for a lot of blog copy.  But I view all the buzz more as a reflection of deeper (and often competing) trends rather than as the start of any new ones.

December 12, 2005 at 02:56 AM | Permalink


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