The essay I'd planned on posting today — about the impact of brain research on justice and some controversial theories about punishment — needs more research and will appear Monday. Instead, I offer quotes from some very smart people who've spent their lives in courtrooms.
"One searches in vain for the execution of any member of the affluent strate of our society."
~ William O. Douglas, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
“From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death…I feel morally and intellectually obligated simply to concede that the death penalty experiment has failed.”
~ Harry A. Blackmun, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice
"Capital punishment merely allows proponents to convince themselves that they have done something to fight crime. It is a mirage that distracts society from more fruitful, less facile answers. [The application of the death penalty] mostly closely resembles the lottery."
~ Robert M. Morgenthau, current District Attorney, Manhattan
"Sometimes, the erroneous assumption is made that opponents of capital punishment are not concerned about victims of crime, or that they somehow denigrate the seriousness of murder. If the execution of murderers is all that can be offered crime victims, maybe it's time to regroup and think a bit harder."
~ James R. Acker, Professor of Criminal Justice at the State University of New York at Albany
"People who are well represented at trial do not get the death penalty...I have yet to see a death case among the dozens coming to the Supreme Court on eve-of-execution stay applications in which the defendant was well represented at trial."
~ Ruth Bader Ginsburg, current U.S. Supreme Court Justice
"Perhaps the whole business of the retention of the death penalty will seem to the next generation, as it seems to many even now, an anachronism too discordant to be suffered, mocking with grim reproach all our clamorous professions of the sanctity of life."
~ Benjamin Cardozo, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice