The death penalty is a cruel, medieval practice – why won’t the US kill it off?

Support for capital punishment is diminishing among the American public, but Trump’s Supreme Court shows no sign of abolishing executions, writes Eric Lewis

Wednesday 29 May 2019 16:28 BST

The long, strange fever of the death penalty is starting to break with the American people. In 2018, 25 people were executed, down from a high of 98 in 1999.

The new governor of California, Gavin Newsom, placed a moratorium on executions, with the largest death row in the nation housing an astonishing 737 prisoners. Even conservatives have started to abandon the death penalty as wasteful and inefficient, requiring longer and more costly trials and decades-long post-conviction proceedings. Life in prison turns out to be a lot cheaper.

An occasional conservative channels his anxiety over government competence into concerns that the state can’t be trusted to get it right: rigorous studies show an innocence rate of those on death row of approximately four per cent.

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