President Obama Calls Death Penalty "Deeply Troubling"

In an interview with Bill Keller of The Marshall Project, President Obama said the administration of the death penalty is “deeply troubling,” and questioned the manner in which capital punishment is applied in the United States. While the President said that he is not opposed to capital punishment “in theory,” he expressed concern about issues including racial bias, wrongful convictions, and botched executions. “We know, statistically, that there’s a racial bias that has been built into the death penalty,” the President said. “We know that it is hugely inefficient, it takes a long time. We know that there were people who’ve been on death row that have been freed because, later on, it’s been proven that they were innocent. We know that, in the application of the death penalty, we’ve had recent cases in which, by any standard, it has not been swift and painless, but rather, gruesome and clumsy. And all of this, I think, has led me to express some very significant reservations.” President Obama said that these reservations had led him to direct the Department of Justice to “take a hard look” at the death penalty, and that “at a time when we’re … thinking about how to make the system more fair, more just,” an examination of the death penalty should be included as part of efforts to bring about broader federal criminal justice reform.

(B. Keller, “Exclusive: Obama Calls the Death Penalty ‘Deeply Troubling.’,” The Marshall Project, October 23, 2015.) See New Voices.