Monday, August 20, 2018
Lee Kovarsky (University of Maryland, Francis King Carey School of Law) has posted The American Execution Queue (Stanford Law Review, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The modern death penalty presents a puzzle: law and norms heavily constrain how American jurisdictions impose death sentences, but not how they select death-sentenced inmates for executions. In this Article, I explain why this strange void persists, argue that its presence undermines equality, and offer workable institutional responses. In short, I advance a comprehensive theory of the American execution queue—the process by which death penalty jurisdictions decide which condemned inmates will actually die. My first objective is explanatory. Because executing a death-sentenced inmate now entails both significant litigation and extensive coordination among under-motivated state institutions, the process takes ten times as long as it did fifty years ago. Modern executions have become “scarce,” as American jurisdictions simply cannot kill all of their condemned offenders. Even though the state must make choices, there are no rules for choosing.