January 2018: While we’re on the subject . . .

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In its editorial, “Capital Punishment Deserves a Quick Death,” the New York Times refers to the recent attempted execution of Alva Campbell by the State of Ohio that had to be called off when executioners were unable to find a viable vein to inject the lethal injection cocktail into 69-year-old Campbell. “The pathetic scene was a fitting symbol of the state of capital punishment in America in 2017, a vile practice that descends further into macabre farce even as it declines in use,” the Times writes.

In “American Exceptionalism in Crime and Punishment,” edited by Kevin R. Reitz, contributors examine the “explosion of severity in nearly every form of [the U.S. government’s] response to crime from the 1970s through the 2000s.” Writers including Franklin E. Zimring, David Garland, and Nicola Lacey look at how and why “American punitiveness exceeds that in other developed democracies — where measurable, by factors of five-to-ten.”

In the January 2 issue of the American Prospect, Justin Miller focuses on “The New Reformer DAs,” including newly-elected Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, Chicago DA Kim Foxx, Harris County, Texas DA Kim Ogg, and Nueces County DA Mark Gonzalez. This “new breed of prosecutors” Miller writes, “may hold the key to resisting Trump’s mania for mass incarceration.”

“Life After the Death Penalty: Implications for Retentionist States,” a program jointly sponsored by the American and New York City Bar Associations a few months ago, brought together of group of speakers that included EJUSA Executive Director Shari Silberstein and Partnerships Director Celeste Fitzgerald; Thomas P. Sullivan, co-chair of the 2000 Commission on Capital Punishment in Illinois; and DPIC Executive Director Robert Dunham to discuss what led up to the abolition of the death penalty in a number of states beginning in the early 2000s. A transcript of the program provides a riveting look at the forces at play when states like Illinois, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut began looking at abolishing capital punishment.

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