« "Do the Supreme Court and other federal courts need a watchdog?" | Main | US District Judge John Gleeson finds extraordinary circumstances to order expungement of old federal fraud conviction »

May 28, 2015

Time magazine devotes cover story to "Why the End of Capital Punishment Is Near"

Death-penalty-final-coverI am intrigued to see that the new issue of Time magazine has a cover picture of an empty electric chair and this text: "The Last Execution: Why the Era of Capital Punishment is ending." Here are excerpts from the magazine's lead article:

Despite extraordinary efforts by the courts and enormous expense to taxpayers, the modern death penalty remains slow, costly and uncertain. For the overwhelming majority of condemned prisoners, the final step—that last short march with the strap-down team—will never be taken. The relative few who are killed continue to be selected by a mostly random cull. Tsarnaev aside, the tide is turning on capital punishment in the U.S., as previously supportive judges, lawmakers and politicians come out against it.

Change is not coming quickly or easily. Americans have stuck with grim determination to the idea of the ultimate penalty even as other Western democracies have turned against it. On this issue, our peer group is not Britain and France; it’s Iran and China. Most U.S. states authorize the death penalty, although few of them actually use it. We value tolerance and ­diversity — but certain outrages we will not put up with. Maybe it’s the teenage terrorist who plants a bomb near an 8-year-old boy. Maybe it’s a failed neuroscientist who turns a Colorado movie theater into an abattoir. We like to think we know them when we see them. Half a century of inconclusive legal wrangling over the process for choosing the worst of the worst says otherwise....

Even in Texas, which leads the nation in executions since 1976 (when the U.S. Supreme Court approved the practice after a brief moratorium), the wheels are coming off the bandwagon. From a peak of 40 executions in 2000, the Lone Star State put 10 prisoners to death last year and seven so far in 2015. According to the state’s Department of Corrections, the number of new death sentences imposed by Texas courts this year is precisely zero. There, as elsewhere, prosecutors, judges and jurors are concluding that the modern death penalty is a failed experiment.

The shift is more pragmatic than moral, as Americans realize that our balky system of state-sanctioned killing simply isn’t fixable. As a leader of the Georgia Republican Party, attorney David J. Burge, recently put it, “Capital punishment runs counter to core conservative principles of life, fiscal responsibility and limited government. The reality is that capital punishment is nothing more than an expensive, wasteful and risky government program.”

This unmistakable trend dates back to the turn of the century. The number of inmates put to death in 2014 was the fewest in 20 years, while the number of new death sentences imposed by U.S. courts — 72 — was the fewest in modern American history, according to data collected by the Death Penalty Information Center. Only one state, Missouri, has accelerated its rate of executions during that period, but even in the Show Me State, the number of new sentences has plunged.

Thirty-two states allow capital punishment for the most heinous crimes. And yet in most of the country, the penalty is now hollow. Since the start of 2014, all but two of the nation’s 49 executions have been carried out by just five states: Texas, Missouri, Florida, Oklahoma and Georgia.

Accompanying this coverr story are these two commentaries for and against capital punishment:

Why The Death Penalty Should Live: If you take lives, yours can be taken

Why the Death Penalty Should Die: Killing killers won't bring back victims

May 28, 2015 at 01:48 PM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
https://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e201b8d11b6e52970c

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Time magazine devotes cover story to "Why the End of Capital Punishment Is Near":

Comments

"If you take lives, yours can be taken"

She writes a moving argument and I wouldn't try to argue she should not feel that way. On the other hand, for the sake of clarity, she is not writing about the prison execution team, which is only to point out the double standard.

Posted by: George | May 28, 2015 2:34:31 PM

Many many many judges don't like capital punishment, and in our society that is a lot to overcome.

Posted by: federalist | May 29, 2015 6:17:17 PM


Hello everyone,
My name is (Walter Kelvin) and am talking as the happiest person in the whole wide world today and i told myself that any lender that rescue my family from our poor situation, i will tell the name to the whole wild world and am so happy to say that my family is back for good because i was seriously in need of a loan $170,000USD to start my life all over as i am a single dad with 2 kids and the whole world seemed like it was hanging on me until i met the GOD sent loan lender that changed my life and that of my family, a GOD fearing lender, Mrs Loveth Miller, she was the Savior GOD sent to rescue my family and at first i thought it was not going to be possible until i received my loan of $170,000USD on the 17th/March/2015 and i will advise any one who is in genuine need of a loan to contact Mrs Loveth Miller via email at (lovethmiller23@gmail.com)because she is the most understanding and kind hearten lender i have even meet online,she is good and honest woman that has the heart of helping people with loan,Am so grateful for the help she has render to me and my entire family,God will continue to bless her,And please kindly inform her that I Mr Walter Kelvin refer you to her,because that was the promise i made to her,I wish you all great success,

Thank You All

Posted by: Walter Kelvin | May 31, 2015 8:30:16 PM

The federal judges I have spoken to "off the record" told me the death cases take too much time and they didn't like the last minute stay applications. They also said the 11th Circuit which was liberal at the time, didn't care about presumption of correctness or anything the state Supreme courts ruled on. This was many years before AEDPA.

I always remember the quote one federal district judge told me. "Sentencing someone to death is one thing. Carrying it out is another."

Posted by: DaveP | Jun 1, 2015 7:08:39 PM

Post a comment

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