The Death Penalty in America
ACS Resources and Analysis
ACS Condemns the Death Penalty
In July 2020, after a 17-year moratorium, the U.S. Justice Department resumed executions of federal prisoners sentenced to death. During this nearly two-decade hiatus, public opinion has turned against the death penalty, due, in part, to the litany of exonerations of people previously sentences to death (170 and counting) and a national reckoning with the racially unjust administration of the death penalty.
The American Constitution Society condemns the cruelty and racism inherent in the death penalty and has launched a new “ACS President’s Initiative” to foster greater understanding of the racial disparities and constitutional issues in the administration of the death penalty.
ACS has and will continue to hold national and chapter events about the lack of effective representation for the accused, the use of junk science, unjust and unnecessary limits on judicial review, as well as the institutional racism that plagues our criminal legal systems and the death penalty.
ACS Death Penalty Statements
- Dustin Honken Executed (July 17, 2020)
- Wesley Purkey’s Execution Is an Affront to the U.S. Constitution and the Supreme Court’s Own Precedent (July 16, 2020)
- Daniel Lewis Lee Executed: First Federal Execution in 17 Years (July 14, 2020)
- Just Ahead of First Federal Executions in 17 Years, ACS President Russ Feingold Condemns the Cruelty and Racism Inherent in the Death Penalty (July 9, 2020)
Videos: ACS Death Penalty Events
Tinkering with the Machinery of Death: Resuming Federal Executions
ACS Webinar (July 9, 2020)
Experts discuss the reasons for the nearly 20-year moratorium on federal executions, and the concerns over this quick succession of executions planned for this summer in the face of continued criticism that the death penalty is arbitrary, racially biased, and plagued by poor, under-resourced lawyering.
Speakers: Gary Tyler, Former Death Row Inmate, Outreach and Engagement Support Worker, Safe Place for Youth; Miriam Gohara, Clinical Associate Professor of Law, Yale Law School; Megan McCracken, Eighth Amendment Resource Counsel; and Russ Feingold, ACS President, Moderator. (July 2020)
The Dangers of Injecting Secrecy into the Death Penalty
ACS National Convention (2015)
Death Penalty Resources
ACS Expert Forum Blogs
- Rebecca E. Woodman, Wesley Purkey’s Execution Should Shock America’s Conscience (2020)
- Frederick Gedicks, Dunn v. Ray: We Should Have Seen This Coming (2019)
- Ron Honberg, Executing People with Serious Mental Illness — Like Wesley Purkey — Is Wrong (2019)
- Brandon Garrett, An End for a Rare, Biased Penalty (2018)
- Richard Lorenc, Jury’s Anti-Gay Prejudice Must Not Send a Man to His Death (2018)
- SprearIt, Repackaging Abolition: Targeting Christians, Conservatives (2017)
- Emily Olson-Gault, “Show me the proof…before you can get the proof”: Ayestas offers the Court the chance to fix a paradoxical and unfair standard in death penalty cases (2017)
- Eve Primus, Litigating Federal Habeas Corpus Cases: One Equitable Gateway at a Time (2018)
- Scott Phillips, Hire a Lawyer, Escape the Death Penalty (2010)
SCOTUS Review Journal
- Carol Steiker & Jordan Steiker, Capital Punishment in the Supreme Court 2018 Term (2019)