The Case Against the Death Penalty

Guest View by Dr. Michael L. Radelet, Professor of Sociology, University of Colorado, Boulder The ways that Americans debate the death penalty have changed dramatically in the past thirty years. Retribution and the need to help families of homicide victims have replaced deterrence as the top pro-death penalty argument, while concerns about erroneous convictions, disparities, cost, and whether the penalty is reserved for the worst of the worst have become the most common points raised by abolitionists. Both sides agree, however, that the burden of proof is on those who advocate its use. In other words, we should not take a human life unless it is an absolute necessity and unless the goals of

The Slow Demise of the Death Penalty

by Richard C. Dieter, Director of Death Penalty Information Center The death penalty in California survived by a narrow vote on November 6, but around the country the signs are clear that capital punishment is slowly on the way out. Even in California, the close defeat of the referendum to repeal the death penalty marks a significant milestone: in a state where almost three-quarters of the people supported the death penalty 30 years ago, now almost half the voters want it replaced. Although California’s recent vote means the death penalty will remain, the 47% of voters who favored replacing it indicates many Californians have had a change of heart regarding capital punishment. By contrast, t


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