User login

Join The Debate

Cast your vote and join the conversation.

Membership is free.

Get Started

Abolish the Death Penalty

The BriefGet Up To Speed

A recent Gallup poll found that Americans are still largely supportive of the death penalty, with 6 in 10 in favor as punishment for murder. Legal in 32 states, it has come under renewed scrutiny in light of several botched executions in 2014. At the heart of the debate are many complicated questions. Within a flawed criminal justice system, is it possible to know every person'€™s guilt with a sufficient degree of certainty? Does the fear of death reduce crime? Are there race and class biases in sentencing? Are some crimes so heinous in nature that punishment by death is the only appropriate measure, or is capital punishment always immoral? Should we abolish the death penalty?


Capital punishment is an intolerable denial of civil liberties and is inconsistent with the fundamental values of our democratic system.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

When you look closely, what you find is that the practice of the death penalty and the commitment to human dignity are not compatible.

Friday, July 18, 2014
Charles Ogletree Jr.

After more than a century of trying, we have still not managed to find a way of killing that does not run the risk of violating our most important moral and constitutional commitments.

Sunday, April 27, 2014
Austin Sarat

Providing lethal injection drugs to state prisons is so toxic that no European country will do it and no American company is willing to do it openly.

Monday, March 16, 2015
Peter Weber

To be reasonable, legislative imposition of death eligibility must be rooted in benefits for at least one of the five classes of persons affected by capital offenses.

Thursday, December 23, 2010
John Paul Stevens

The modern abolition movement is now based on a trio of urban legends: 1) the death penalty is racist, 2) the accused get grossly inadequate representation, 3) a remarkable number of people on death row are innocent.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Joshua Marquis

The stubborn fact is that death-penalty abolitionism runs counter to one of humanity’s oldest and most persistent moral intuitions: that there should be condign retribution for the most monstrous transgressions.

Monday, April 30, 2012
Charles Lane

To preserve our country’s heritage that justice must turn on the facts of each case individually considered, federal juries should continue to have discretion to impose the death penalty.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007
William Otis

Recent investigations, using a variety of samples and statistical methods, consistently demonstrate a strong link between executions and reduced murder rates.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014
David Muhlhausen

Every tool in the arsenal of a law-enforcement officer is important — from the sidearms we carry to the law itself. Without these tools, we cannot keep our communities safe or ensure justice is carried out.

Monday, March 10, 2014
Dave Reichert

This webpage summarizes the movement of prisoners into and out of death sentence status. The data describe offenders' sex, race, Hispanic origin, education, marital status, age at time of arrest for the capital offense, legal status at the time of the offense, and method of removal. The webpage also includes information on executions, trends, and time between imposition of death sentence and execution.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

At yearend 2013, 35 states and the Federal Bureau of Prisons held 2,979 inmates under sentence of death, which was 32 fewer than at yearend 2012.

Monday, December 1, 2014
Tracy Snell

Death row statistics as of October 1, 2014. For all previously quarterly Death Row U.S.A. reports, click<a title="Death Row U.S.A." href=""> here</a>.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969
Deborah Fins

Methods used for execution in the United States—firing squad, hanging, gas chamber, electrocution, and lethal injection.

Thursday, July 24, 2014
Raoul Ranoa

The authors estimate that if all death-sentenced defendants remained under sentence of death indefinitely, at least 4.1% would be exonerated.

Monday, March 24, 2014
Samuel Gross

The Death Penalty Information Center is a national non-profit organization serving the media and the public with analysis and information on issues concerning capital punishment.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969
Supreme Court

An overview of Supreme Court rulings.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969
Legal Information Institute

Most often mentioned in the context of the death penalty, the Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishments.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969
Legal Information Institute

Issue: (1) Whether it is constitutionally permissible for a state to carry out an execution using a three-drug protocol; (2) whether the plurality stay standard of Baze v. Rees applies when states are not using a protocol substantially similar to the one that this Court considered in Baze; and (3) whether a prisoner must establish the availability of an alternative drug formula even if the state’s lethal-injection protocol, as properly administered, will violate the Eighth Amendment.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

The Supreme Court is reviewing lethal injection for the first time in seven years. Here’s what it means for the death penalty.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Annie Waldman

In late April, the justices will return to what has become a litigious, unsettled area of the law when they hear arguments in Glossip v. Gross, a challenge to Oklahoma’s lethal-injection protocol.

Monday, February 2, 2015
Deborah Denno
Public Opinion

Americans' support for the death penalty has varied over time, but apart from a single reading in 1966, the public has consistently favored it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014
Jeffrey M. Jones

Americans who favor the death penalty most often cite ‘an eye for an eye’ as the reason they hold their position, with 35% mentioning it. ‘Save taxpayers money’ and ‘they deserve it’ tie as the second-most-popular reasons Americans volunteer in this open-ended measure, at 14% each.

Thursday, October 23, 2014
Art Swift

According to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, 55% of U.S. adults say they favor the death penalty for persons convicted of murder. A significant minority (37%) oppose the practice.

Saturday, March 29, 2014
Pew Research Center

The committee concludes that research to date on the effect of capital punishment on homicide is not informative about whether capital punishment decreases, increases, or has no effect on homicide rates.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Daniel Nagin and John Pepper (editors)

According to roughly a dozen recent studies, executions save lives. For each inmate put to death, the studies say, 3 to 18 murders are prevented.

Sunday, November 18, 2007
Adam Liptak

The public supports it, but the costs are lethal.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Maurice Chammah
In the News

The question before the court now is whether the lethal injection protocol, which has undergone unexpected changes in the past few years, amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

Friday, January 23, 2015
Jason Millman

The American Pharmacists Association on Monday adopted a policy that discourages its members from providing death penalty drugs.

Monday, March 30, 2015
Associated Press

Attorney General Eric Holder is endorsing a halt to all executions nationwide while the Supreme Court considers whether some lethal injection methods are unconstitutional.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Josh Gerstein

Holder has promised the president a report on the federal government’s use of the death penalty.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015
Maurice Chammah