<< News Scan | Main | Cost Argument Rejected in Conn. Capital Trial >>

Charles Lane on the Death Penalty

I just received a new book by WaPo editorial writer Charles Lane titled Stay of Execution: Saving the Death Penalty From Itself.  Here is the description from the jacket:

The United States stands alone as the only Western democracy that still practices capital punishment. Yet the American death penalty has gone into noticeable decline, with annual death sentences and executions dwindling steadily in recent years.  In Stay of Execution, Charles Lane offers a fresh analysis of the unexpected trend and its moral and political implications.  Countering conventional wisdom that attributes the death penalty's decline to public rejection of the "ultimate sanction," he shows that it is instead related to the ebbing of violent crime itself.  The death penalty is not only more popular than critics claim, is also less flawed by wrongful executions or racial bias. Lane argues that capital punishment should be preserved, while proposing major reforms to address its real inequities and inconsistencies.
I look forward to reading this book.


Usually, books advertised as this one is propose "reforms" that would make the death penalty a practical impossibility. They are honest enough to create an appearance of objectivity, but it always turns out that the bottom line is a further ratcheting down of the circumstances in which the DP can be used.

We have about 17,000 murders a year in this country and about 60, or slightly fewer, executions. What's needed is not more limitations, but more, and swifter, justice for killers.

I would not expect that from Lane, but I will post again after I have read the book.

There are some reforms I would like to see myself. I think California should narrow its special circumstances (although we do need to add one -- child murder). I would like to get rid of Lockett and have the mitigating circumstances specified by statute.

Leave a comment

Monthly Archives