Editorials

In recent years, many national and local newspapers have published editorials on the death penalty. Some have called for reform based on particular problems, others have called for an end to capital punishment. The quotes below represent a small sample of those statements from newspapers around the country. For additional editorials, see:

Editorials Current Year

Previous Years: 2016 2015 2014 2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008

See also the table of categories below.

KANSAS and MISSOURI

"Capital punishment should be ended everywhere. It does nothing to bring back the lives that murderers have taken and it forecloses any possible rehabilitation of the convicts. The system is broken, a moral stain on the people of every state where it’s legal. Although the U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t yet ruled it so, it’s the very definition of cruel and unusual punishment. This unfixable system must be abolished. State legislators should lead the way in doing that in Missouri, Kansas and elsewhere in 2015."

"Instead of defying a national trend, Missouri could lead by ending the death penalty," January 2, 2015

WASHINGTON

"A state that executes criminals ought to regularly revisit whether its government ought to be in the business of taking human life in the absence of immediate danger, even the lives of the most monstrous murderers. Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday forced a welcome new discussion by granting a blanket reprieve to the nine killers on Washington's death row. ... The News Tribune's editorial board has grown increasingly uncomfortable with capital punishment in recent years, and we now share Inslee's feeling that Washington should move beyond it. Honest opposition to the death penalty must acknowledge that Washington - unlike some states - has applied it rarely, carefully and to killers whose guilt is beyond dispute. The few who do get executed here tend to have committed uncommonly hideous crimes, or else have waived their appeals and more or less volunteered to die. ... The rarity of capital punishment in Washington—the fact that the public doesn't bay for the blood of common killers—says something good about us. We don't think it's a big leap to go from rare to never."

"A welcome new debate about the death penalty," February 12, 2014

NEW HAMPSHIRE

"[S]tate lawmakers should take advantage of the new opportunity granted them by a governor who, for the first time in the modern era, opposes the death penalty. They should repeal the capital punishment statute in 2014, knowing full well that the sentence [of] life in prison without parole ... is justice enough for even the most remorseless killers. New Hampshire hasn’t used its death penalty in more than 70 years. We will be a better, fairer, more humane state without it."

"Editorial: It’s time to repeal the death penalty," November 10, 2013

TEXAS

"On moral grounds alone, Texas should abolish capital punishment as six other states have done in the last six years. Maryland become the most recent in May. Just as the Supreme Court declared in 1972, the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment, and its application continues to be arbitrary and capricious. ... Abolishing capital punishment would neither demean the memory of victims nor deny any of them justice. Instead, it would make our society as a whole more just, more morally consistent and certainly more humane. Texas retired “Old Sparky,” its electric chair, in 1977. It is time to permanently close our infamous death chamber."

"It's time to halt executions," Fort Worth Star-Telegram, June 22, 2013

MONTANA

“Our bottom line is that it’s risky to execute people when they might not be guilty. In addition, the cost and trauma of court cases that drag on for years is not worth the satisfaction some people receive from the finality of executions. We simply cannot afford to spend millions of dollars each on future death penalty cases.”

- "Death penalty risky, too expensive," February 5, 2013

NEW YORK

"The large number of states no longer carrying out executions indicates a kind of national consensus. It points to 'the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society,' an idea that the Supreme Court has evoked in judging the constitutionality of punishments. The court used that analysis most recently when it ruled that mandatory life sentences without possibility of parole are unconstitutional for juvenile offenders even if they are convicted of homicide. It should similarly recognize that under evolving standards capital punishment is cruel and unusual and should be abolished."

- "America's Retreat From the Death Penalty," January 2, 2013

CALIFORNIA

“For most of its 162 years as a state, California has had laws on the books authorizing the death penalty. And for nearly all of its 155 years as a newspaper, The Bee has lent its support to those laws and use of capital punishment to deter violence and punish those convicted of the most horrible of crimes. That changes today. The death penalty in California has become an illusion, and we need to end the fiction – the sooner the better. The state's death penalty is an outdated, flawed and expensive system of punishment that needs to be replaced with a rock-solid sentence of life imprisonment with no chance of parole."

- "Time to end the fiction of California's death penalty," September 9, 2012

TEXAS

"The case for eliminating the death penalty can be made for several compelling reasons. First and foremost, the possibility—and almost certain likelihood—the state periodically executes innocent people should propel capital punishment beyond the pale of possibility."

- "Pull the switch on the death penalty," May 11, 2012

NEBRASKA

"[I]f the system cannot work without error — as the facts show — then the death penalty cannot be justified. Sooner or later, an innocent person will die at the hands of the state of Nebraska."

- "Mistakes flaw death penalty," January 29, 2012

ALABAMA

"Lawmakers should also look at the costs of carrying out death sentences in Alabama and evaluate whether continuing to do so represents the best use of the state's limited resources. They should look at the problem of wrongful convictions and determine whether there can ever be enough assurance an innocent person won't be put to death. And lawmakers ought to study the arbitrary criteria that decide which crimes are worthy of the death penalty and the arbitrary way those cases play out, and they should then consider whether we as humans ought to be in the business of making life-and-death decisions at all."

- "Our View: Alabama lawmakers should pass legislation to put a three-year halt to imposing death sentences or carrying out executions," April 25, 2011

ILLINOIS

"We’ve learned that the system makes too many mistakes to entrust it with the ultimate power of capital punishment. We’ve learned that legal safeguards can be pushed aside when emotions are high after a heinous crime. We’ve learned that political ambition sometimes blinds those in power to the weaknesses of a case. We’ve learned that evidence can disappear or be misrepresented, that witnesses seeking special deals may lie, that juries may be swayed by emotion instead of facts."

- "Death Penalty Repeal a Victory for Justice," March 10, 2011


Editorials by Category (prior to 2009):

Arbitrariness Life Without Parole
Clemency Mental Disabilities
Costs Moratorium
Deterrence Race
Due Process Representation
Innocence Terrorism
Juveniles Victims and Redemption
Lethal Injection  

See also statements, testimony, speeches, and resolutions.