That's the title of an OpEd in today's New York Times by Daniel LaChance. It's subtitled, "Capital Punishment, Another Failed Government Program?" LaChance is an assistant professor of history at Emory University, in Atlanta.
TO opponents of the death penalty, recent accounts of botched executions and DNA-based exonerations of death-row prisoners have revived hope that judges and voters will finally see capital punishment for what it is: an intolerable affront to human dignity.
But while such optimism is understandable, it is misplaced. Support for capital punishment is, in fact, in decline — but it’s less the result of a moral awakening on the part of the public than a symptom of a 40-year-plus process of disillusionment.
Resources for fighting the death penalty are scarce, and for too long, abolitionists have spent them appealing to the humanistic ideals they wished most Americans shared, instead of one they actually do: distrust of government. Arguing that the death penalty is an affront to human dignity just doesn’t work. But portraying it as another failed government program just might.
Related posts are in the OpEd category index.