From an editorial in Thursday’s Washington Post:
A Charleston, South Carolina, jury convicted racist murderer Dylann Roof of hate crimes last month, and now the only question is whether the state will put him to death. We oppose the death penalty even for the Dylann Roofs of the world. But if the jury disagrees with us, at least it would hand down the ultimate punishment in retribution for a truly unusual crime and without a shadow of doubt about Roof’s guilt.
The same cannot be said for many other cases that resulted in death sentences over the past several decades, in which the punishment was meted out without the restraint that even death-penalty advocates should favor.
That is why we were heartened to read through the Death Penalty Information Center’s recent year-end report. The group found that 30 new death sentences were handed down in 2016, a drop of 19 from 2015. In fact, 2016’s total represents the lowest number in decades.
The practice of killing human beings, even with all the due process in the world, is also in tension with the inherent dignity Americans should ascribe to human life. The sooner the United States gets to zero executions, the better.