NEW RESOURCES: "Lessons from New York's Recent Experience with Capital Punishment"

Prof. James Acker has published an article in the latest edition of the Vermont Law Review entitled, “Be Careful What You Ask For: Lessons from New York’s Recent Experience with Capital Punishment.” The article explores the various standards by which the death penalty was evaluated during the last decade in New York. The public debate first addressed the question of, “Is it right?” with a focus on retribution, morality and religion. The second set of questions addressed was, “Is it useful? Is it cost-effective? Is it necessary?” with a focus on costs and alternatives such as life in prison without parole. The final question discussed was, “Is it fair?”

Acker is a Distinguished Teaching Professor of the School of Criminal Justice at the State University at Albany. He explores the issues that New York faced first in reinstating the death penalty and then in abandoning it, issues such as innocence, race discrimination, arbitrariness, quality of representation, and the makeup of the capital jury. Based on his extensive review of the legislative debate and public hearings, Acker concluded, “Between 1995, when their state enacted a death penalty statute after not having one for more than a generation, and 2004, when the New York Court of Appeals invalidated the law on state constitutional grounds, New Yorkers invested millions of dollars and an incalculable amount of time and effort in an enterprise that vexed many and ultimately benefited no one.”
(J. Acker, "Be Careful What You Ask For: Lessons from New York’s Recent Experience with Capital Punishment," 32 Vermont Law Review 683 (2008)). See Law Reviews.