Susan A. Bandes of DePaul University College of Law authored “The Death Penalty and the Misleading Concept of ‘Closure’” published by The Crime Report on Jan 8. 2020. The following is an excerpt.
When William Barr first served as U.S. Attorney General, in the first Bush administration, he supported the death penalty based on its deterrent and retributive value. Until he departed last month, he remained a steadfast supporter of capital punishment.
But his rationale changed. In announcing the ramp-up of the federal machinery of death that has led so far to ten executions in the past five months (with yet another one, the execution of Lisa Montgomery, scheduled for a week before the end of President Trump’s term), Barr stated that “we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”
Barr’s shift mirrored a subtle but powerful change in the national conversation about capital punishment. As the deterrence rationale proved hard to justify, and the retributive rationale began to sound too angry and vengeful, both have been replaced with a kinder, gentler-sounding justification: by carrying out executions we can honor the victims and help their families heal.
Read the full piece here.