Everything We Know About the American Heartland


Everything We Know about the Death Penalty

May 1, 2017

Show Notes

This week, we tackle a pretty heavy subject: the death penalty.

History of the Death Penalty

The death penalty has always been in use but an abolition movement has been gaining steam.

  • In 1972, the Supreme Court imposed a moratorium on the death penalty in Furman v. Georgia.
  • In 1976, Stevens casts a vote to bring the death penalty back in Gregg v. Georgia. But Stevens has stated that he regrets that vote:

“I really think that the death penalty today is vastly different from the death penalty that we thought we were authorizing. And I think if the procedures had been followed that we expected to be in place, I think I probably would’ve still had the same views.” Instead, he views his vote to uphold capital punishment in 1976 as the one he regrets during his tenure. It is “the one vote I would change,” he says. Calling the decision “incorrect,” Stevens says the 1976 court “did not foresee how it would be interpreted.”

  • Abolition movement has successfully resulted in repeal of Death Penalty in several states. Many states have officially repealed. In 2007, New Jersey became the first state to repeal the death penalty by legislative vote since Gregg v. Georgia, followed by New Mexico in 2009, Illinois in 2011, Connecticut in 2012, and Maryland in 2013. Others have a moratorium, where it is technically still provided by law but DP is not sentenced or carry out (e.g. California hasn’t carried out a DP since 2006). Wikipedia: List of states with execution hiatus
  • In Glossip v. Gloss (2015) the Court held using midazolam does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment.
  • Most recently, Arkansas scheduled several executions in a short period of time to avoid the expiration of its death penalty drugs. The Supreme Court refused to hear the issue.

Why do we have the death penalty?

What are the rationales for the death penalty? Do they hold up under scrutiny?

This week in the Supreme Court

In this segment, we discuss our Supreme Court predictions.

We also recently revamped our methodology for tracking predicting.