Many of you may have watched an interview with Justice John Paul Stevens on 60 Minutes last night, Sunday, November 28, 2010. You can see the interview here on the CBS website. The interview itself was superficial at best. For example, Stevens is seen showing Scott Pelly the Justices' locker room. The most important thing about the interview is how Stevens' astonishing intellect is on display from start to finish.
The interview was prompted by the pending publication of On the Death Sentence, a book review written by Justice Stevens in the December 23, 2010 issue of The New York Review of Books. The online version of the New York Review of Books was made available last night. The book Justice Stevens reviewed is Peculiar Institution: America's Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition by David Garland.
Stevens points out that Garland's book is not an argument for or against the death penalty. It is, instead, an explanation of why we Americans continue to support the death penalty. Stevens' opinions on the justification for the death penalty are readily available to anyone with any kind of legal search engine or a good secondary source.
Interestingly, today's Hartford Courant contains an exceptionally well researched article, Sham Death Penalty is a Costly Luxury for State by Dan Haar. He points out that the cost of administering the death penalty in Connecticut is out of control. The state is not executing anyone. Haar's position is that the costs of imposing the death penalty could easily provide for additional law enforcement that might save lives and for services to victim's families.
Regardless of your opinion about the death penalty, both the Courant article and Stevens review of Peculiar Institution are well worth reading.