Capital Punishment, the Inevitability of Caprice and Mistake

By Charle S L. Black Jr. | Go to book overview
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Chapter 11

A Summary—
Law New and Old

Now I HAVE SKETCHED a shocking picture. I know that I have not meant to mislead, and I think I have not misled; minor mistakes could hardly affect this crushing case. I will not now recapitulate in detail, but will remind you only that the decisions on charging, on acceptance of guilty plea, on determination of the offense for which conviction is warranted, on sentencing, and on clemency add up (for somewhat different reasons in each case, discussed in the chapters above) to a process containing too much chance for mistake and too much standardless "discretion" for it to be decent for us to use it any longer as a means of choosing for death. We have to keep using it as a means of choosing for other punishment, even as we slowly try to make it better, but for the death of a person it will not do, and it cannot be reformed enough to do.

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