Wiping the stain of capital punishment clean

by Stephen Cooper

U.S.-Supreme-Court-building-in-Washington-D.C.-by-Diego-M.-Radzinschi-ALM-web, Wiping the stain of capital punishment clean, News & Views
U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. – Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi, ALM

Soon the Supreme Court will decide whether to hear a case with the potential to end this nation’s abominably long and freakish experimentation with the death penalty. That’s right, drum roll, please. Because, if it grants certiorari in Hidalgo v. Arizona – a case Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe describes as emblematic of “the problems with our [country’s] current capital punishment regimes” – America’s broken and vile “machinery of death” can finally be trashed in the junkyard of our dark, wayward humanity.

Since its reinstatement over 40 years ago, the death penalty has soiled our justice system and collective moral compass with its racist, arbitrary and torturous application. Its ignobility and continued existence in the U.S. has not only drawn international opprobrium from human rights activists and religious leaders, it continues to deny us a seat at the table of civilized, just, peaceable people around the world – whose countries long ago rejected capital punishment.

Implore the Supreme Court to wipe capital punishment’s bloody stain away. Forever.

So as Thanksgiving preparations thrust into high gear, take to Twitter, to Facebook, to the streets even, and make your voices heard. Tell the Supreme Court you’ve had enough of the state-sanctioned killing of overwhelmingly poor, disproportionately minority men and women – most of whom were condemned as famed death penalty attorney Stephen Bright long ago observed – because they had the worst lawyer, not because they committed the worst crime.

Now is the time to declare: Enough of the shibboleth that the death penalty acts as a deterrent! Enough of its immense financial drain! Enough of its moral depravity! Enough torture! Implore the Supreme Court to wipe capital punishment’s bloody stain away. Forever.

Stephen A. Cooper is a former D.C. public defender who worked as an assistant federal public defender in Alabama between 2012 and 2015. He writes full-time, lives in Woodland Hills, California, and can be reached at @SteveCooperEsq. This story first appeared on the Jamaica Observer.