Just as in Clarence Darrow’s day, the death penalty continues to be practiced in many American states. Yet around the world, the majority of nations no longer executes their prisoners, showing increasing support for the abolition of capital punishment. Recently, in December 2014, when the United Nations General Assembly introduced a resolution calling for an international moratorium on the use of the death penalty, a record 117 countries voted in favor of abolition, while only 38 nations, including the United States, voted against it.
In February, the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery Alabama released a report, Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror. In researching for the report, EJI examined the practice of lynching in twelve southern states between Reconstruction and 1950. The report’s conclusions and recommendations provide important lessons about the past, present, and future of society.