For twelve years, criminal law professor and leading retributivist Robert Blecker wandered freely inside Lorton Central Prison, armed only with cigarettes, a tape recorder, and the prisoners' trust, probing the lives and crimes of street criminals. After decades of visiting death rows and prisons around the country, speaking with both guards and convicted killers, he began to better understand who did and did not deserve to die. While liberal activists decry the death penalty as unnecessarily expensive and too prone to human error, Blecker found a shocking alternative reality: in today's prisons, perversely, the worst criminals often live the best lives. Inside prison, it's nobody's job to punish. The Death of Punishment argues, on both moral and practical grounds, that we fail to punish criminals at our peril. Blecker offers a much-needed blueprint for making the punishment more closely fit the crime, and shows why European-style prisons, such as in Norway, where mass killers like Anders Breivik have professional playmates, do not supply the answer. Today, as Colorado prosecutors seek the death penalty for Aurora shooter James Holmes and we await the fate of Boston Marathon bomber Dzokhar Tsarnaev, the death penalty is once again a national conversation.
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