American Law Institute, 'only intellectually respectable support' for capital punishment system in U.S. abandons support for it...
By Brad Friedman on 1/6/2010, 2:33pm PT  

A bit of good-ish, encouraging news from out of an otherwise horrible year, from this week's New York Times...

Last fall, the American Law Institute, which created the intellectual framework for the modern capital justice system almost 50 years ago, pronounced its project a failure and walked away from it.

There were other important death penalty developments last year: the number of death sentences continued to fall, Ohio switched to a single chemical for lethal injections and New Mexico repealed its death penalty entirely. But not one of them was as significant as the institute’s move, which represents a tectonic shift in legal theory.

“The A.L.I. is important on a lot of topics,” said Franklin E. Zimring, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “They were absolutely singular on this topic” — capital punishment — “because they were the only intellectually respectable support for the death penalty system in the United States.”
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“It’s very bad news for the continued legitimacy of the death penalty,” Professor Zimring said.