While we’re on the subject. . .


“Whether you support capital punishment or oppose it, one thing is clear. Oklahoma’s system is so fundamentally flawed that we cannot know that someone who has been condemned to death actually deserves the ultimate penalty,” writes former U.S. Judge Andy Lester in a letter to the editor in nondoc.com. Lester was one of three co-chairs of the Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission that, in 2017, called for a moratorium on the state’s death penalty until its 45 recommendations were implemented. “Virtually none of these ‘common sense reforms’ . . . [which] address serious shortcomings in every part of the death penalty process,” were enacted, he writes. “Yet, despite the numerous, serious flaws in Oklahoma’s implementation of the death penalty, the moratorium was lifted, and our state has barreled ahead with an unprecedented number of executions.”

“One of the biggest flaws in our state’s death penalty [is] its randomness,” the Charleston, South Carolina Post and Courier editorial staff write in an op-ed. Pointing out that the state’s 12-year hiatus on executions could end soon now that the legislature “gave an extraordinary secrecy shield to to drug manufacturers,” the op-ed suggests that “The best single fix for this problem of the inconsistent application of the death penalty would be for the Legislature to strip decisions about seeking the death penalty from individual solicitors — who have to stand for reelection and can be too easily swayed by public emotion — and instead give that authority to a statewide panel of solicitors.”

“We live in a state with strong religious influence indicating murder is one of the greatest sins yet the death penalty is upheld,” Emma Ely writes in the University of Utah’s student newspaper, the Daily Utah Chronicle. “The moral dilemma that stands in front of us is both contradictory and hypocritical. Our justice system justifies taking a life for a life, focusing on punishment and harm rather than rehabilitation and empathy.” She calls on readers to get involved in ending capital punishment “whether it be students at a local institution, local writers with a religious perspective, or those who hold the legal power to make change, [because] advocacy matters.”

In their article, ‘Their Futures, So Full of Dread:’ How Barefoots Contamination of the Death Penalty Trial Process Continues,” Michael L. Perlin, Talia Roitberg Harmon, Maren Geiger, and Moana Houde-Camirand look at the ramifications of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Barefoot v. Estelle (1983), “its most roundly-criticized criminal procedure decision in modern history.” In a 6-3 ruling, the Court found that it was not unconstitutional for psychiatrists to testify that a defendant whom they had never evaluated or interviewed “would probably commit further acts of violence and represent a continuing threat to society.”

The Equal Justice Initiative 2024 calendar provides a daily historical entry of significant racial injustice in the U.S., dating from the 1600’s to the 2000’s. “We cannot begin to address today’s most urgent problems in a meaningful way without learning about our nation’s history of racial injustice and its legacy,” EJI states in its introduction. “A History of Racial Injustice” is a powerful, exhaustive, and yet concise compilation of our shameful history of racism. It allows the reader to acknowledge this history while inspiring a desire to join the effort to eliminate this scourge.

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