Debating Capital Punishment

May 20, 2014

A recent botched prisoner execution in Oklahoma has poured new fuel on the fiery debate surrounding capital punishment in America. For some people, the pain of the punishment should approach that of the crime. For others, the death penalty is a reprehensible and frequently mishandled State endorsement of killing. Wednesday, we’ll hear from both sides of the debate, and ask this question: If America is going to execute criminals, could we be going about it a better way?


  • Austin Sarat is a professor of jurisprudence and political science at Amherst College. His new book is called Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America's Death Penalty [Amazon|Indiebound].
  • Robert Blecker is a professor of law at New York Law School and author of the book The Death of Punishment: Searching for Justice among the Worst of the Worst [Amazon|Indiebound].
  • Visit us on VideoWest for a short documentary that asked journalists and others who had witnessed executions this question: what's it like to watch a man die?