Former Nonresident Senior Fellow of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution
Pro to the question "Should the Death Penalty Be Allowed?"
"I suspect that the abolitionist justices may have been right in their perception that the death penalty is in tension with the 'evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.' (Chief Justice Earl Warren originated the line in 1958, in Trop v. Dulles.)
They were wrong, however, to take this perception as a mandate to abolish the death penalty, for at least three reasons.
First, the recent history sketched previously shows that the trend toward less enthusiasm for executions is not linear, and that well-intentioned judicial efforts to speed up the evolution process can backfire.
Second, judicial abolition of the death penalty would usurp powers assigned by the Constitution to the legislative and executive branches...
Third, while the justices know a lot about the social costs of the death penalty, they know very little about whether and to what extent these costs may be offset by the very considerable benefit of saving innocent lives...
Many more experts argue that the death penalty does not deter crime. And it seems likely that in some contexts - jihadist terrorists who crave martyrdom, for example - more executions might actually bring more murders.
Putting aside such special cases, at this point most of us can only speculate about which side has the better of the inherently conjectural arguments about deterrence. The same is true of the justices. And speculation is not a firm foundation on which to build constitutional law."
Stuart Taylor Jr., "The Death Penalty: Slowly Fading?," National Journal, Nov. 17, 2007
Experts Individuals with MDs, JDs, PhDs, other relevant advanced degrees, corrections and government officials with significant involvement in, or related to, death penalty issues. [Note: Experts definition varies by site.]
Involvement and Affiliations:
Former Nonresident Senior Fellow of Governance Studies, Brookings Institution
Columnist, National Journal
Contributing Editor, Newsweek
Senior Writer, American Lawyer Media, 1989-1997
McGraw Distinguished Lecturer in Writing, Princeton University, 1988-1989
Reporter and Supreme Court correspondent, New York Times, 1980-1988
Attorney, Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, 1978-1980
Reporter, Baltimore Sun and Evening Sun, 1971-1974