Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens recently wrote a book review for the New York Review of Books. The book is entitled “Peculiar Institution: America’s Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition,” written by David Garland, a professor of law and sociology at New York University.
The New York Times describes the review in this way, "In a detailed, candid and critical essay to be published this week in The New York Review of Books, he wrote that personnel changes on the court, coupled with “regrettable judicial activism,” had created a system of capital punishment that is shot through with racism, skewed toward conviction, infected with politics and tinged with hysteria."
In 1976, after just joining the Court, Stevens voted to reinstate the death penalty. In 2008, two years before he announced his retirement, Justice Stevens reversed course and in a concurrence said that he now believed the death penalty to be unconstitutional.
According to the Times, Justice Stevens said the court took wrong turns in deciding how juries in death penalty cases are chosen and what evidence they may hear, in not looking closely enough at racial disparities in the capital justice system, and in failing to police the role politics can play in decisions to seek and impose the death penalty.
To read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/us/28memo.html?_r=2&hp