Is America Done With The Death Penalty?

The death penalty isn't a hot-button issue anymore. Is it time to be rid of it?

America! Despite being the land of the free, we tend to have rather draconian laws when it comes to criminal punishment. As attitudes about America's morality continue to change, one particular vestige of our country's cruelty might be coming to an end: will we discontinue the death penalty in the near future?

A New York Times article published this morning analyzed the issue. "The death penalty has escaped abolition before, but there are no longer any excuses: The nation has evolved past it, and it is long past time for the court to send this morally abhorrent practice to its oblivion," proclaims the newspaper.

NYT argues that where politicians had once used the death penalty to attract voters, electorates are seeing diminishing returns in their promises of corporal punishments. "Even in the most death-friendly counties," it reads, "public support appears to be fading."

This is also paired with a handful of new initiatives that will have states like California voting on whether or not to continue to practice at all and the increasing unpopularity of the death penalty as a practice in general. "For the first time in nearly half a century, less than half of Americans said they support the death penalty ... While that proportion has been going down for years, the loss of majority support is an important marker against state-sanctioned killing," asserts the NYT.

The article also points out the inconsistencies and continual failures of the death penalty as a practice, noting that most of those put to death come from radically judicious counties with a pattern of racial bias. Similarly, until rather recently, some courts allowed non-unanimous juries to decide the fates of criminals.

Would the end of the death penalty mark a new era of kindness and liberalism for our country? No, probably not. But it's a start.

[Photo: Getty Images]

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