NEW VOICES: Opposing Viewpoints Find Common Ground

Although New York Law School Professor Robert Blecker and Columbia Law School Professor James Liebman frequently take opposing sides in public debates on the death penalty, the two men recently revealed their "common ground" through a co-authored opinion column in the Houston Chronicle. Calling on legislators in Texas and elsewhere to enact a series of death penalty reforms to ensure accuracy and improve fairness, Blecker and Liebman noted:

Despite our different perspectives, we agree that death as a punishment should be inflicted, if at all, only upon the worst of the worst; that society can incapacitate without killing, so future dangerousness and deterrence alone are never sufficient reasons to punish someone with death; and that a state-ordered execution is a terrible, solemn act that should occur only after the greatest deliberation.

Limiting the scope of crimes eligible for the death penalty, addressing racial bias, improving access to qualified attorneys and DNA testing, and passing comprehensive reform packages were among the recommendations made by Blecker and Liebman.

(Houston Chronicle, May 23, 2003) See New Voices.