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Rethinking the Death Penalty

November 16, 2001 • Volume 11, Issue 40
Are the growing doubts justified?
By Kenneth Jost

Introduction

Executions by lethal injection take place in the death chamber at the Texas state prison in Huntsville. Since the Supreme Court reinstituted the death penalty in 1976, Texas has executed 253 people, the most of any state.  (AFP Photos/Paul Buck)
Executions by lethal injection take place in the death chamber at the Texas state prison in Huntsville. Since the Supreme Court reinstituted the death penalty in 1976, Texas has executed 253 people, the most of any state. (AFP Photos/Paul Buck)

Most Americans still favor the death penalty, but support has declined in the past five years. Critics point to documented attacks on the reliability and fairness of court procedures in capital cases. They claim too many death sentences are reversed on appeal and that flaws in the system, including inadequate defense counsels, create an unacceptable risk of executing an innocent person. Supporters of capital punishment say legal safeguards are adequate and that no innocent person has been put to death in recent years. The changing climate can be seen in the enactment of state laws to limit the death penalty and in cases before the Supreme Court, which is set to decide whether it is unconstitutional to execute mentally retarded offenders.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Death Penalty
Nov. 19, 2010  Death Penalty Debates
Sep. 23, 2005  Death Penalty Controversies
Nov. 16, 2001  Rethinking the Death Penalty
Jan. 08, 1999  Death Penalty Update
Mar. 10, 1995  Death Penalty Debate
Jul. 13, 1990  Death Penalty Debate Centers on Retribution
Jan. 18, 1985  Emptying Death Row: More U.S. Executions
Jan. 10, 1973  Death Penalty Revival
Jul. 17, 1963  Punishment by Death
Aug. 14, 1953  Death Penalty
Feb. 16, 1943  Treason
Jun. 21, 1927  The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Death Penalty
Domestic Issues
Sentencing and Corrections
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