A recent national poll found that sixty-five percent of Americans favor the death penalty. That's down from eighty percent ten years ago. Moreover, the total favoring the death penalty dropped to fifty percent when those polled were asked to assume that thealternative to the death penalty was life in prison with no chance of parole. And, the number of death sentences imposed in the United States during the last few years has dropped to the lowest level since capital punishment was reinstated thirty years ago. Thus, it would seem that our society's attitude toward capital punishment is changing. What was once routine is now exceptional, and what was once virtually unquestioned is now questioned. Along with abortion and the war on terror, capital punishment implicates not only legal, but social and political issues as well. We'll be talking about these issues and how our society has dealt with them in the past, and how it is dealing with them now.
Hon. William W. Wilkins,
The Legal, Political, and Social Implications of the Death Penalty,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol41/iss4/2