From the American Law Institute: the capital [punishment] justice system in the United States is irretrievably broken. That’s not exactly what the Institute said, but that’s what it amounted to. From Adam Liptak at the link:
In 1962, as part of the Model Penal Code, the institute created the modern framework for the death penalty, one the Supreme Court largely adopted when it reinstituted capital punishment in Gregg v. Georgia in 1976. Several justices cited the standards the institute had developed as a model to be emulated by the states.
The institute’s recent decision to abandon the field was a compromise. Some members had asked the institute to take a stand against the death penalty as such. That effort failed.
Instead, the institute voted in October to disavow the structure it had created “in light of the current intractable institutional and structural obstacles to ensuring a minimally adequate system for administering capital punishment.”
That last sentence contains some pretty dense lawyer talk, but it can be untangled. What the institute was saying is that the capital justice system in the United States is irretrievably broken.
The article concludes:
[O]pponents of the death penalty said the institute’s move represented a turning point.
“It’s very bad news for the continued legitimacy of the death penalty,” [UC Berkeley] Professor Zimring said. “But it’s the kind of bad news that has many more implications for the long term than for next week or the next term of the Supreme Court.”
Samuel Gross, a law professor at the University of Michigan, said he recalled reading Model Penal Code as a first-year law student in 1970. “The death penalty was an abstract issue of little interest to me or my fellow students,” Professor Gross said. But he remembered being impressed by the institute’s work, saying, “I thought in passing that smarter people than I had done a sensible job of figuring out this tricky problem.”
Things will look different come September, Professor Gross said.
“Law students who take first-year criminal law from 2010 on,” he said, “will learn that this same group of smart lawyers and judges — the ones whose work they read every day — has said that the death penalty in the United States is a moral and practical failure.”
Spot has nothing to add to that.