DPIC Podcasts

DPIC Podcasts

Discussions With DPIC podcast

DPIC "On the Issues" podcast

DPIC Individual State Podcasts

Podcast Subscription Info

DPIC is pleased to provide podcasts that discuss a wide variety of issues relating to the death penalty.

Our podcasts cover three different types of death penalty issues. The "On the Issues" podcast series explores different factual, legal, and ethical topics relating to capital punishment.

A second series of podcasts details the history of capital punishment in each state. This series is currently in production, and we will be releasing new episodes periodically.

DPIC has also initiated a new monthly podcast series, "Discussions With DPIC," in which we speak with death penalty experts about timely death penalty developments in the news. 

To listen to any of the podcasts below, simply click the "Download / Listen" link under each title. To download the podcast, right click the "Download / Listen" link and select "Save As..." 

Click here for instructions on how to add our podcast feed to iTunes or another RSS reader.

Discussions With DPIC podcast

Arkansas' plan to execute seven prisoners over an 11-day period
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DPIC staff members Robert Dunham, Robin Konrad, and Anne Holsinger explain Arkansas' plan to execute seven prisoners over an 11-day period beginning April 17. They discuss the state's reasons for the condensed execution schedule, current litigation related to lethal injection drugs, and the risks of this unprecedented rate of executions. Additional background information on the Arkansas' executions is available here.


Running time: 20:01 (April 13, 2017)

Women and the Death Penalty, With Professor Mary Atwell
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In observance of Women's History Month, DPIC staff members Anne Holsinger and Robin Konrad interview Mary Atwell, Ph.D., one of the nation’s foremost experts on women on death row. Dr. Atwell is Professor Emerita of Criminal Justice at Radford University and author of three books on capital punishment, most recently Wretched Sisters: Examining Gender and Capital Punishment. The podcast discusses Dr. Atwell's research and highlights the themes and patterns present in capital murder cases in which women were the defendants.


Running time: 41:06 (March 24, 2017)

Innocence and Prosecutorial Misconduct, With Exoneree Isaiah McCoy and Lawyers Michael Wiseman and Herbert Mondros
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Robin Konrad, Director of Research and Special Projects, interviews Isaiah McCoy, the nation’s 157 death-row exoneree, and his lawyers, Michael Wiseman and Herbert Mondros. McCoy’s was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death in Delaware in 2012.  After winning a new trial in 2015, he was acquitted of all charges in January 2017. McCoy's case featured several systemic problems that plague the death penalty system: a lack of physical evidence, eyewitnesses who received deals from the prosecutor and told multiple versions of the story about the crime, a non-unanimous jury recommendation for a death sentence, and a prosecutor whose misconduct in the case was so outrageous that he was suspended from practicing law. McCoy and his lawyers explain how these factors contributed to his wrongful conviction, discuss his efforts to be exonerated, and describe McCoy's life since exoneration.


Running time: 38:34 (February 16, 2017)

2016 Year End Report
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DPIC Executive Director Robert Dunham and Director of Research and Special Projects Robin Konrad discuss the findings and themes of the 2016 DPIC Year End Report. This year marked historic lows in death sentences, executions, and public support for the death penalty. They explore the reasons for the declines, look at what this year's election results say about the death penalty, and describe the cases that resulted in executions this year. Click here to read the Year End Report, which is the basis for this episode. 


Running time: 43:35 (December 22, 2016)

Intellectual Disability and the Death Penalty, With Law Professor John Blume
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As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear oral argument in Moore v. Texas on November 29, 2016, Cornell Law School Professor John Blume joins us to share his expertise on intellectual disability and the death penalty. He provides context on the Supreme Court's 2002 decision, Atkins v. Virginia, which banned the execution of defendants with intellectual disabilities, and describes the clinical criteria used in most determinations of intellectual disability. In the second half of the conversation, Professor Blume explains Texas' idiosyncratic method for determining intellectual disability, the background of the Moore case, and how the Court's decision in Moore may affect the death penalty system in Texas and other states. 


Running time: 18:54 (November 28, 2016)

Law professor and author John Bessler
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Law professor and author John Bessler joins DPIC executive director Robert Dunham to discuss "Against the Death Penalty," a book version of Justice Stephen Breyer's historic dissent in Glossip v. Gross in which he questions the constitutionality of the death penalty. Professor Bessler edited the book and wrote an extensive introduction explaining the significance of the opinion, In a wide-ranging conversation, Bessler and Dunham discuss the dissent itself, the national context of the decision, and the possible effects of an 8-member Supreme Court. 


Running time: 38:25 (October 21, 2016)

Jeffery Wood and the Texas Law of Parties, With Expert Guest Kate Black
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Today, DPIC launches a new podcast series, "Discussions With DPIC," which will feature monthly, unscripted conversations with death penalty experts on a wide variety of topics. The inaugural episode features a conversation between Texas Defender Services staff attorney Kate Black (pictured) and DPIC host Anne Holsinger, who discuss the case of Jeffery Wood and Texas' unusual legal doctrine known as the "law of parties." Wood's case garnered national media attention because he was sentenced to death despite having neither killed anyone nor even intended that a killing take place. His execution, which had been scheduled for August 24, was stayed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to permit him to litigate a challenge to the prosecution's use of scientifically invalid predictions of future dangerousness by a psychiatrist who had been expelled from state and national psychiatric associations for similarly improper testimony in the past. In the podcast, Black explains the law of parties and its application in Wood's case, and discusses how the national dialogue that developed around Wood's case may affect the death penalty in the future. 


Running time: 10:34 (September 14, 2016)

DPIC On the Issues Podcast Series

Episode Twenty-Two:
Lethal Injection Part 2

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A discussion of recent changes to lethal injection protocols in response to drug shortages and other problems.

Running time: 6:11 (April 23, 2014) Transcript

Episode Twenty-One: Arbitrariness and the Constitution

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Interview with University of Baltimore Law School Professor John Bessler on arbitrariness and the history of the death penalty.

Running time: 17:00 (March 1, 2013) Transcript coming soon.

Episode Twenty: Alabama Death Row Inmate Freed: Jennifer Whitfield Interview

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Interview with Jennifer Whitfield of Covington and Burling regarding the 2012 release of Alabama death row inmate Larry Smith.

Running time: 18:00 (May 24, 2012) Transcript

Episode Nineteen: Japan

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Interview with Michael Fox discussing issues surrounding the death penalty in Japan, including public attitudes towards the death penalty, the way the criminal justice system works and the efforts of abolitionist groups.

Running time: 12:00 (May 1, 2012) Transcript

Episode Eighteen: Spanish Language Podcast

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Discusses general issues of the death penalty in America: recent trends, application against minority defendants, support among Hispanics as well as the international use of the death penalty. Presented in Spanish.

Discute temas generales de la pena de muerte en Estados Unidos: tendencias recientes, la aplicación contra los acusados ​​de las minorías, el apoyo entre los hispanos, así como el uso internacional de la pena de muerte. Presentado en español.

Running time: 6:15 (April 2, 2012) Transcript

La transcripción

Episode Seventeen: International

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Discusses the international context of the American death penalty, including international trends in capital punishment and how international opinion affects the death penalty in the U.S.

Running time: 8:47 (December 2, 2011) Transcript

Episode Sixteen: Death Row

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Focuses on the conditions and the people on death row around the country, including a discussion of the length of time inmates spend on the row and the legal issues related to this confinement.

Running time: 9:34 (October 7, 2011) Transcript

Episode Fifteen: Supreme Court

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A summary of the role of the Supreme Court in the death penalty, including discussion of major decisions by the court on capital punishment.

Running time: 7:30 (August 8, 2011) Transcript coming soon.

Episode Fourteen: Legal Process

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A summary of the legal process involved in a death penalty sentence, including jury selection and the appeals process.

Running time: 9:49 (June 28, 2011) Transcript

Episode Thirteen: Women

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Covers some of the history of executed women in America, as well as issues of gender bias and differences among genders in support for the death penalty.

Running time: 6:15 (May 5, 2011) Transcript

Episode Twelve: Mental Illness and Intellectual Disability

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Covers the definition of mental illness, Supreme Court rulings related to insanity, mental illness and intellectual disability, and examples of severely mentally ill inmates who have been executed.

Running time: 7:43 (April 4, 2011) Transcript

Episode Eleven: Lethal Injection

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Covers the history of lethal injection, involvement of medical professionals, court rulings, and recent problems with drug availability and protocol changes. 

Running time: 9:40 (March 4, 2011) Transcript

Episode Ten: Reader's Choice 2

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Answers readers' questions on criminological theories, methods of execution, costs, and the future of the death penalty.

Running time: 5:45 (January 14, 2011) Transcript

Episode Nine: Reader's Choice 1

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Answers readers' questions on how prosecutors decide to seek the death penalty, death-qualified juries, DNA testing, and Americans on death row in other countries.

Running time: 9:22 (December 20, 2010) Transcript

Episode Eight: Victims

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Covers the variety of victims' families' reactions to the death penalty, the role of victim's family members in sentencing decisions, and victim impact statements.

Running time: 6:54 (August 18, 2010)

Episode Seven: Representation

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Covers the importance of high-quality representation and provides examples of inadequate representation in capital cases including statistics and individual cases.

Running time: 11:53 (April 1, 2010) 

Episode Six: Race

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Covers issues of race in the death penalty, such as whether race plays a role in criminal sentencing, analysis of race statistics in the justice system and measures intended to prevent racial factors in sentencing.

Running time: 5:22 (January 14, 2010) 

Episode Five: Innocence

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Covers issues of innocence in the death penalty, such as the possibility of innocent people sentenced to death, and whether the judicial process prevents wrongful execution.

Running time: 7:34 (August 31, 2009) 

Episode Four: Deterrence

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Covers issues of deterrence, including views of police and criminologists about the deterrent effect of executions and statistical analysis of deterrence effects.

Running time: 7:15 (July 9, 2009) 

Episode Three: Cost

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Covers issues of cost in the criminal justice system, such as explaining the cost of a death penaly sentence versus life without parole, and the factors that influence the cost of execution.

Running time: 5:23 (June 22, 2009) 

Episode Two: Clemency

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Covers issues such as how clemency works in the criminal justice system, including who grants clemency, why clemency is granted, and how often it occurs.

Running time: 5:23 (May 13, 2009) 

Episode One: Arbitrariness

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Covers issues such as geographic and racial disparities in death penalty sentencing, as well as exploring why people get different sentences for similar crimes.

Running time: 5:10 (April 17, 2009) Transcript

Individual State Podcasts

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In 1847, Michigan became the first English speaking jurisdiction, and the first US state, to abolish the death penalty for all crimes other than treason. 


Running time: 3:25 (August 18, 2014) Transcript


In 1853, Wisconsin became the first state to abolish the death penalty for all crimes, including treason. 

Running time: 4:50 (August 29, 2014) Transcript


A series of botched hangings led to the state of Maine reexamining its use of the death penalty. The state abolished the death penalty in 1876, but it was reinstated for a few years after a series of "cold-blooded murders". The state abolished the death penalty again in 1883, and has not reinstated it since.

Running time: 4:13 (August 29, 2014) Transcript 


Minnesota became the 4th state to abolish the death penalty after a short history of capital punishment filled with questions about the fairness of a murder trial as well as the largest mass hanging in US history.

Running time 5:29 (September 17, 2014) Transcript

North Dakota Download/Listen

North Dakota's residents signed a petition in 1915 about the "barbarous" and "ineffective" nature of the death penalty. That very year, the North Dakota legislature passed a bill repealing the death penalty and it has remained off the books ever since. 

Running time 4:37 (September 26, 2014) Transcript 


Alaska was under territorial and colonial rule from the 18th century through 1959, when it became a state. This long history of outside influence, in addition to several other unique aspects of Alaska, have played an important role in the attitudes towards the death penalty there.

Running time 3:04 (October 10, 2014) 


In the late 19th century, as Hawaii became a center of agricultural production, the immigrants who were brought to the islands in a form of indentured servitude bore the brunt of the arbitrariness of the judicial system in annexed Hawaii.

Running time 3:43 (October 10, 2014) Transcript


"Uncivilized and impossible to enforce." This was the sentiment of Iowa in 1872 when the state initially abolished capital punishment. What followed was a series of events that led to the reinstatement, and second abolition of the death penalty.

Running time 3:16 (October 24, 2014) Transcript


Vermont has a long history of sparse use of capital punishment and saw a steady decline in the scope of crimes that were punishable by death throughout the years. The death penalty was rendered invalid in 1972 by Furman v. Georgia and has never been reinstated since.

Running time 4:37 (October 24, 2014) Transcript


Massachusetts has a long history of capital punishment ever since it was an English colony in the 17th century. However, a famous case involoving two Italian immigrants may have been the turning point against capital punishment in Massachusetts.
Running time 4:45 (October 31, 2014) Transcript

District of Columbia

The District of Columbia is a special area that has oversight on both the local and federal levels. This unique status has led to a dynamic with the death penalty that is not found in any other state in the US.

Running time 4:40 (October 31, 2014) Transcript

Rhode Island

A capital murder trial wrought with prejudice in the 18th century set the foundation for a state that would abolish the death penalty twice in the next 200 years. This abolitionist culture led to controversy when Governor Lincoln Chafee refused to transfer a murder suspect to Federal custody.

Running time 3:55 (February 9, 2015)

New Jersey

In 2006, New Jersey became the first state to legislatively impose a moratorium on executions. This moratorium would be the precursor to the state's abolition of the death penalty in 2007.

Running time 6:58 (February 9, 2015)

New York

New York carried out more executions than any state other than Virgina between 1608 and 1972. However, in the 1960s, the state legislature began to chip away at what constituted a capital crime. In 2004, the New York State Supreme Court declared the death penalty violates the state constitution due to arbitrariness and a state appeals court effectively vacated death row in 2007. 

Running time 4:40 (February 20, 2015)

New Mexico

The emptying of death row by Governor Tony Anaya in 1986 set the tone for the erosion of support for the death penalty in New Mexico. As a state with a growing Roman Catholic and non-white population, the shifting demographics became apparent in 2009 when Gov. Richardson asked his constituents for feedback on death penalty abolition. 

Running time 5:29 (February 20, 2015)


Illinois had a long history of racial bias in its implementation of the death penalty. Numerous studies and commissions led to the Illinois State Legislature abolishing capital punishment in the state in 2011.

Running time 6:10 (March 3, 2015)


Connecticut had an infamous history as far as the death penalty was concerned. Connecticut is believed to have executed a 12 year-old in 1786 -- the youngest person ever executed in the history of the United States. Legal issues have yet to resolve the status of Connecticut's current death row population, despite the death penalty being abolished in Connecticut in 2012.

Running time 3:41 (March 3, 2015) 


This podcast discusses the history of the death penalty in Arkansas, how it is carried out in the state, and executive and legislative efforts to repeal or reintroduce capital punishment. Arkansas’ use of the death penalty has mirrored the politics of race in the state, and the podcast explores some sensitive issues relating to racial bias, lynching, and capital punishment. It also discusses the state’s reenactment of the death penalty after Furman v. Georgia and current issues with lethal injection drugs.

Running time 7:54 (May 4, 2015) 

Subscribing to DPIC's Podcasts

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