Two divergent sources, same analysis, capital punishment is dying.
Last year, New Jersey became the first state to outright abolish its death penalty since 1965. And despite upholding the constitutionality of Kentucky’s lethal injection procedure in April of this year, in June the Supreme Court concluded the execution of child rapists is illegal.
By all outward appearances, the death penalty in the United States faces an uncertain future. Ever since the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976’s Gregg v. Georgia, its use has been gradually restricted. In 2007, 42 inmates were executed, down from a post-Gregg high of 98 in 1999. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia don’t have death penalty statutes; 3 more (Excel doc) haven’t executed anyone in four decades. Meanwhile, Illinois granted clemency to all 167 of its death row inmates in 2003 citing a flawed sentencing process. The emergence of reliable DNA evidence has led to the exoneration nationwide of more than 200 wrongly convicted people.
Especially because the death penalty is dying a slow death nearly everywhere except Texas, I do not have time, energy or an inclination to focus on the ever-more-marginal punishment when so much else is going on the sentencing universe.