The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
George Will recently wrote an op-ed in the Post, advancing the "conservative case" against the death penalty. My friend Bill Otis has written this strong response. Here's an excerpt of Bill's argument:
Will says that the considerable expense and delay of capital punishment "are here to stay." How does he know that? Fifty years ago, we were told, by people who think as Will does now, that (then) growing national opposition to the death penalty itself was "here to stay." And they were right — for about a decade, after which, once past its brief flirtation with abolition, and not caring for the results, the country re-instated capital punishment and has since executed roughly 1400 grisly killers. As the thinking man's conservative, Will should know better than to make breezy statements about what is "here to stay." He should also know that the way to make capital punishment less expensive and time-consuming is not to abolish it, but to place sensible limits on its currently grossly indisciplined costs and delay. A civilized society should spend what it takes to make certain we have the right guy, but should do much more than we have (and could) to shrink manufactured procedural delays far removed from the determination of guilt or innocence.
Both pieces are well worth reading if you are interested in how the death penalty debate is playing out.