David Garland: Five Myths about the Death Penalty

On September 5, 2010, David Garland, professor of law and sociology at New York University wrote an oped article that appeared in the Oregonian on September 5, 2010. His book Peculiar Institution: America’s Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition is forthcoming this fall. The article centers around 5 points:

1. The United States is a death-penalty nation. In fact this country barely uses the death penalty.

2. This country is out of step with Europe and the rest of the Western world. It is true in one important sense: We have the death penalty and they don’t. But (and he goes on with caveats)

3. This country has the death penalty because the public supports it. It is true, when asked by pollsters, a majority of respondents say they support the death penalty. It is less clear whether people…have given much thought or have considered alternatives such as life in prison without parole

4. The death penalty works. Proponents argue…that the death penalty works…(and he goes on with caveats.)

5. The death penalty doesn’t work. The idea that the death penalty works may be a myth—but this doesn’t mean that the opposite is true

To read the complete article: http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2010/09/five_myths_about_the...

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