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Monday, December 30, 2013

The Death of the Death Penalty?

Back in 2000, my second book written with Robert Jay Lifton (after our Hiroshima in America) was published, this time on capital punishment, titled Who Owns Death?  We boldly predicted that the practice would slowly expire in the U.S., even though polls did not then offer firm evidence.  In many cases they still don't, yet the death count has been steadily declining.  As we noted back then, Americans like to tell pollsters that they back the death penalty but are uneasy about voting for it on juries, and judges (and lawmakers) feel much the same.  Also, we noted then, that the rising adoption of life-without-parole sentencing would also have an impact.

Today, one of the few major media outlets to consistently oppose the death penalty, the NYT weighs in with an editorial marking the latest year of "progress" on this front.   Here's an excerpt.  Also see my ebook on the subject, Dead Reckoning, including a compact history of death penalty in the USA and current debates. 
In 2013, Maryland became the sixth state to end capital punishment in the last six years. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have abolished the penalty, and it is dormant in the federal system and the military. Thirty states have had no executions in the last five years.
As it becomes less frequent, the death penalty also becomes more limited to an extremely small slice of the country, and therefore all the more arbitrary in its application.

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