Monday, May 5, 2014
Death penalty scholars have at times extolled the virtues of thinking small when considering the death penalty’s future — it may be that a single blockbuster event leads to the collapse of the death penalty, they say, but the more likely scenario is a cauldron of micro-factors that simply make it too politically and economically costly to maintain. In this symposium contribution, I take up the charge to think small about the death penalty, examining how individual actors (some small, some large) are impacting the administration of the death penalty in the United States. I first discuss a few noteworthy examples of thinking small. Then I discuss the substantial impact these actions have had on the death penalty in practice, and how that impact has fundamentally changed America’s death penalty debate. I then conclude with my own take — one that celebrates the virtues of thinking small about the death penalty but laments the need to do so.