Posted by Brad @ 3:01 pm on September 22nd 2011

Quote of the Day

“[Our] interest in the finality of [our] capital judgments is more important than the accuracy of [our] capital verdicts.”

The State of Georgia


  1. Lawrence Russell Brewer was also executed yesterday for the well-publicized murder of an African-American man by dragging. He made no issue of his guilt and exhibited no remorse; there was no outcry over his execution.

    I find myself wondering whether capital punishment opponents are doing themselves any favors by focusing on the possibility of inaccurate verdicts as their primary objection. If capital punishment is unjustified, surely the guilt of the defendant is not really the issue?

    Comment by Rojas — 9/22/2011 @ 3:57 pm

  2. I’m not sure that holds water, Rojas.

    Let’s say you don’t like oranges. If you’re given a choice between two oranges to eat, of which one is ripe and the other is covered in mold, which are you going to resist eating more? Surely you’d balk at the mold covered one far more than the ripe one. Choosing the ripe one doesn’t mean you’re a fan of oranges, only that you can rationally choose that a few bites of a fruit you dislike is superior to munching down on some rotten former orange.

    Translate it to executions. If you’re opposed to the death penalty, it seems most reasonable to fight in the cases where the injustice would be greatest. Focusing efforts on the cases where an innocent person may die would tend to be more reasonable than fighting equally for an admitted and unquestioningly guilty individual.

    Such prioritization of action and effort doesn’t mean that there isn’t still an equal opposition to the death penalty, only that certain cases take precedence, as they should.

    This seems like a great time to plug a favorite organization of mine: The Innocence Project does some seriously amazing work and deserve a dollar or two if you’re feeling generous.

    Comment by Cameron — 9/22/2011 @ 7:22 pm

  3. The Innocence Project is probably the non profit doing the greatest good in America, second only to the ACLU, and with a much much tighter budget (donations go much farther).

    I get your point, Rojas. But I also think that first hyperlink does a good job of making the case that we might be approaching critical mass on the issue of confidence in the death penalty. I have no doubt that in any individual case (most specific) or as an abstract principle (most general), the death penalty will always have majority support in this country. The problem, however, is what degree of risk Americans are willing to assume to support those most specific or most general cases. We are moving to a place where the anti-death penalty position may be occupying the middle ground, which is a major development. And, as in the case of gay marriage, I think you have a greater chance of convincing the public when it comes to that middle ground.

    Comment by Brad — 9/22/2011 @ 8:48 pm

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