Confession time… The whole death penalty debate? I don’t much care. I don’t think it makes much difference in crime rates. I don’t know what’s worse, life in prison or execution. There are a few guys I’d like to see hanging from a rope (Osama, of course; Eric Rudolph; Ted Kascinski maybe) but I wouldn’t be broken up about it if they wound up spending a few decades in jail instead. (Of course, Osama in jail is probably too dangerous and he’d have to die to protect American citizens.)
What does concern me — a little, I’m not broken up about it — is the way that the death penalty is applied. The study reported here takes up my concerns: the racial bias in death penalty decisions, the use of the ultimate punishment when it probably isn’t justified, and the cheapness of the states, which (in particular) leads to incompetent counsel for indigent defendants.
What bugs me more than anything else is the way in which my particular state has chosen to put people to death. Alabama, like Florida but unlike its other neighbors, has chosen to stick with the electric chair. The chair should be considered cruel and unusual punishment; there’s no question but that we only use it because it’s painful, since it’s more expensive, harder to maintain, and less reliable than lethal injection.