Considering the Death Penalty

Arkansas is carrying out a wave of lethal injections. Today, we reflect on the death penalty in the United States. In the Pearls, we discuss the order enjoining President Trump's sanctuary cities order, President Trump's first hundred days, and the attack at Transylvania University. In the Heels, we discuss the Handmaid's Tale and the Whitney Plantation. 

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The Pearls

First, we discuss the federal court order enjoining enforcement of President Trump's executive order purporting to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities. We also discuss President Trump's interview with Reuters during which he reflected on his first 100 days in office (spoiler: Sarah is incensed; Beth hopes this indicates the beginning of some humility in the President), including past interviews from White House staffers on why it is such a hard job. 

We are heartbroken that our alma mater, Transylvania University, endured an attack that appears to be politically-motivated. The attacker previously wrote a post about his experience as a conservative at Transylvania. We also praised the response from the university president

Compliments to the Other Party: At listener Jaime's suggestion, Sarah complimented President Trump for his remarks about Senator Tammy Baldwin and her Buy American initiative. Beth complimented Heather Boushey, an economist who spoke compellingly at Vox Conversations about wealth inequality and taking a holistic approach to economic policy. 

The Suit

Arkansas is executing death row inmates because of a supply issue with a drug involved in lethal injections. The state had planned 11 executions. The court orders ultimately blocked half of the scheduled lethal injections, including a second that had also been scheduled for last Thursday night. There was an issue with the execution of Kenneth Williams, which is raising additional questions about lethal injection. 

We both highly recommend More Perfect's Cruel and Unusual podcast about lethal injection advocacy.

In 1972, the Supreme court decided Furman v. Georgia , 408 U.S. 238. From the case wikipedia page, "In a 5-4 decision, the Court's one-paragraph per curiam opinion held that the imposition of the death penalty in these cases constituted cruel and unusual punishment and violated the Constitution. However, the majority could not agree as to a rationale. There was no opinion of the court or plurality as none of the five justices constituting the majority joined in the opinion of any other." States began passing legislation to address the Supreme Court's concerns with unfair application and several of these statues were upheld in Gregg v. Georgia in 1976. 

The United States is the world's only western nation that still uses capital punishment. In addition to the federal government, 31 states use the death penalty. According to Gallup polling, 60% of Americans support the death penalty. Eighteen people have been exonerated by DNA evidence while serving on death row and there have been several issues with botched executions leading to an effective execution hiatus in many states. 

We discuss whether or not Texas executed an innocent man. We also discuss the purpose of the death penalty if it isn't a deterrent and if people age out of crime. We recommend the work of Bryan Stevenson

We even deep dive in the purpose of punishment generally and alternate approaches within parenting. Sarah recommends Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason and For most of history, people didn’t assume they deserved to be happy. What changed?

The Heels

We talk about The Handmaid's Tale (Beth preferred Alias Grace). Don't watch The Handmaid's Tale after reading about declining birth rates. We also discussed Sarah's trip to Whitney Plantation. If you're in Cincinnati, visit the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, too.