In Arizona on July 23, prison officials needed nearly two hours to complete the execution of double murderer Joseph Wood. In April 2014, Oklahoma authorities spent some 40 minutes trying to kill Clayton Lockett before he finally died of a heart attack.
Since the start of 2014, all but two of the nation’s 49 executions have been carried out by just five states: Texas, Missouri, Florida, Oklahoma and Georgia.
For the first time in the nearly 30 years that I have been studying and writing about the death penalty, the end of this troubled system is creeping into view. Reason 1: Despite decades of effort, we’re not getting better at it.
The relative few who are killed continue to be selected by a mostly random cull.
Tsarnaev aside, the tide is turning on capital punishment in the U.
Even so, Tsarnaev is in no danger of imminent death.
He is one of more than 60 federal prisoners under sentence of execution in a country where only three federal death sentences have been carried out in the past half-century. The situation is similar in state courts and prisons.
Thirty-two states allow capital punishment for the most heinous crimes.
And yet in most of the country, the penalty is now hollow.
Despite extraordinary efforts by the courts and enormous expense to taxpayers, the modern death penalty remains slow, costly and uncertain.