Rocked but Still Rolling
The Enduring Institution of Capital Punishment
in Historical and Comparative Perspective
Michael McCann and David T. Johnson
The death penalty in the U.S. is a wreck, but it's our
wreck—a collage of American attitudes, virtues, and
—David Von Drehle, 20081
With all cylinders working as in Texas [the death pen-
alty] produces a lot of executions.
—Richard Dieter, 20072
[T]o the extent Baze was supposed to be a sort of test
drive for doing away with capital punishment alto-
gether. … [I]t seems to have been driven off a cliff.
—Dahlia Lithwick, 20083
The abolition of capital punishment is a much discussed but complicated concept, and the standards for measuring where the United States is on the road to abolition are far from obvious. For one thing, a de facto halt in executions could (and often does) occur without a de jure prohibition of the death penalty. As of the end of 2007, some 33 nation-states had gone at least 10 years without a judicial execution, and many others had so greatly