A bottomless pit

"The politics of death is a bottomless pit that sucks everybody in.” This judgment, offered by a California attorney who has tried more than 100 capital cases, aptly summarizes the complicated arguments for and against the death penalty in American culture. After all, who can deny the horrors of a Ted Bundy or a Jeffrey Dahmer? Who can deny the pain of parents whose children are slaughtered by unrepentant murderers? Yet how many innocent people have died in the midst of a politics of revenge? How do we account for racial and economic disparities among those sentenced to death? And what do we tell ourselves and our children, if the way we respond to murder is by killing the murderer?


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