While we’re on the subject . . .

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In her op-ed, “Want to Keep Ohio’s Death Penalty? Fix it First,” in the Columbus Dispatch, Phyllis L. Crocker commends Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s order delaying the execution of Warren Keith Henness to give corrections officials time to find alternative lethal injection drugs, but says he’s only addressing part of the problem with the state’s death penalty system. Crocker was a member of the Ohio Supreme Court Joint Task Force on the Administration of Ohio’s Death Penalty that sent 56 recommendations to state leaders addressing problems with the system, and she says ensuring integrity in the process requires implementing the recommendations “before executions resume, not changing execution drugs.”

In a column, “Could the pope’s call to end the death penalty keep Catholics off juries?” in the Washington Post, Alina Plezer Cover looks at the possible effect Pope Francis’s recent declaration that, “The death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” could have on jury selection in capital cases. “Because of the anomalous way we select juries in capital cases, greater opposition to the death penalty among Catholics could, counterintuitively, increase the number of death sentence imposed in this country,” Cover writes. “This paradox” is possible, she says, because of the “death qualification” that allows judges in capital cases to disqualify prospective jurors who are opposed to the death penalty. The result Cover says is “a smaller, more adamantly pro-execution pool of jurors.”

In their article, “Why Conservatives Should Oppose the Death Penalty,” Arthur Rizer and Marc Hyden enumerate how capital punishment runs counter to all of the tenets of conservatism: its expense, its governmental overreach, its immorality in its racism and arbitrariness, and its lack of respect for every human life. “Opposition to the death penalty should boil down to a lack of faith in a woefully error-prone government,” they write. And then they ask, “After all, how willing are you to trust your life to this system?”.

In his new book, “Liberty, Tyranny, and the Enlightenment Maxim That Can Remake American Criminal Justice,” John D. Bessler explores the history of the maxim that articulates the “parsimony principle.” That principle, which holds that any punishment that goes beyond necessity is “tyrannical,” was first articulated by Baron de Montesquieu and later publicized by the Italian criminal-law theorist, the Marquis Beccaria. Bessler shows the maxim’s modern-day implications for capital punishment, prolonged solitary confinement, and mass incarceration.

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