This week’s 39-page opinion by U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney — finding California’s death penalty unconstitutional — is already setting off a wave of debate in the media. We will see yet whether it catches any political fire in this dry, but so-far politically placid, season in California.
There is much to recommend in the … More >
To “botch” something is to carry out a task “badly or carelessly.” Oklahoma’s botched execution Tuesday, April 29, 2014 demonstrated that word in its absolute in-glory. (Read the New York Times account here).
Badly? Executions always cause at least psychological pain. Even if everything goes perfectly, the physical pains involved in … More >
On the 19th of December, the paper of record, the New York Times, ran a story discussing the lower number of executions (39) in 2013 than in a previous years; a trend that began sometime ago (read it here). The causes of this trend are complex and fascinating and worthy of … More >
For millennia, executions were a major public event in the western world. Hanging or shooting or stoning or burning or disemboweling someone in the public square served to warn people against transgressing the law, denying the faith, or just ticking off the ruler. Public executions were also opportunities for moral … More >
The Consoler-in-Chief was in Aurora, Colo. this week to comfort the community struggling to cope with the mass killing (and wounding) over the weekend. Among the tones of emotion and religious faith that the President is remarkably effective at communicating in his restrained and reasonable way, the sharpest and most … More >
It’s more than just an echo of the Obama’s 2008 campaign. The California ballot in 2012 will carry two measures aimed directly at the heart of the state’s fear-based political culture and the massive penal system it has spawned.
The first, which was formally certified for the November election on Monday … More >
I believe the death penalty is an inherently degrading and dehumanizing punishment that should not be used even on the most heinous criminals. But when a state executes individuals with substantial doubt about their actual innocence they have crossed a different line. They are not … More >
Illinois has just became the 16th state to ban capital punishment: Governor Pat Quinn, a recently elected Democrat, signed into a law a bill abolishing capital punishment passed by the Illinois legislature several weeks ago (read John Schwartz and Emma Fitzsimmons reporting in the NYTimes here). Governor Quinn’s … More >