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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Do we still need to study the death penalty?

By Ryan J. Winter
The Monitor on Psychology
2015, Vol 46, No. 7
Print version: page 32

Recent Gallup polling shows support for the death penalty in the United States is at a 40-year low, with the 63 percent favorability rating a stark contrast to the 80 percent who supported it in the 1990s.1 When comparing death to life in prison, death favorability drops to 42 percent.2 Meanwhile, the number of death verdicts has also dropped, with only 73 defendants sentenced to death and 35 executed in 2014. Contrast this with 279 sentences and 98 executions in 1999.3 Of 32 death penalty states, only seven carried out executions in 2014, the fewest in 25 years. Further, eight states have abolished the death penalty since 2007, and no states have added the penalty.

As its reign appears to be over, there's no need to continue studying the death penalty, right?
Not so fast. Focusing on the malicious actions of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, prosecutors and defense attorneys seemingly set aside all pretenses about his guilt to focus on the only trial phase worth attention: whether he deserved death. Half a country away, James Holmes — the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooter — began his trial with a prosecution equally zealous in pursuing death.

The entire article is here.
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