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March 27, 2015

Has modern "death penalty politics radically, shockingly changed"?

The question in the title of this post is prompted by this new Salon piece which carries this full headline: "'We’re seeing it among Evangelicals': How death penalty politics radically, shockingly changed." The piece reports on an interview with National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty executive director Diann Rust-Tierney, and here is how the Q&A is introduced:

The recent release of Debra Milke, an Arizona woman who spent 23 years on death row for a crime she did not commit, is first and foremost a tragic story of injustice. But it’s something else, too: another arresting example of how the reality of the criminal justice system in the U.S., which has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, falls well short of its supposed intentions. As Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was appointed by law-and-order drug warrior Ronald Reagan, told Congress earlier this week, the system is, “[i]n many respects … broken.”

Politicians on both sides of the aisle are more willing to discuss making serious changes to American justice than they have been in more than a decade, but one of the most stark and disturbing manifestations of the system’s flaws still often goes unmentioned. We’re thinking, of course, about the death penalty. But if one considers the great attention paid by the media and the public to recent botched executions in Oklahoma and Arizona — as well as Utah’s decision to bring back firing squads — there’s reason to think that, too, may soon change.

Recently, Salon spoke over the phone with National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty executive director Diann Rust-Tierney about her group’s work and the changing politics of capital punishment.

March 27, 2015 at 10:12 AM | Permalink


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The system is broken. It allows thousands of murders and millions of other violent crimes. It is completely stymied by big government rent seekers, mostly at the cost of people with ark skins. Their victimizations do not matter to these elites.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 27, 2015 6:18:23 PM

Does anyone really believe that she didn't do it?

Posted by: federalist | Mar 28, 2015 10:51:04 AM

I don't know if "she didn't do it," but do know that more is needed to convict her. As one person who suggests she did do it & has little sympathy for her noted:

"It simply means she's not guilty, according to our laws and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and is free to get on with her life."


The crime she was alleged of doing is arraigning for someone to murder her son. If she did that, 23 years in prison to me is a suitable punishment -- people get a lot less than that for killing people in this country in other cases. It also would mean she wouldn't have been executed w/o due process of law.

I don't know if death penalty politics has "shockingly" changed. Concern about crime in recent years nationally has been crowded out by other concerns such as terrorism. That probably is a major factor & leaves open room for more concern about the death penalty.

Posted by: Joe | Mar 28, 2015 11:56:02 AM

ETA: My hypothetical alternative sentence would involve her not potentially being executed w/o due process of law, of course, since obviously she was not. The system not being perfect, as various critics of certain members of the government underlines, some people would fall in between the cracks there.

Posted by: Joe | Mar 28, 2015 11:58:51 AM

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