Austin Sarat

Austin Sarat is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst College., He is the author of When the State Kills: Capital Punishment and the American Condition, and most recently edited From Lynch Mobs to the Killing State: Race And the Death Penalty in America.

Recent Articles

Death Row, Aisle Seat

Newt Gingrich once said that the key to building a new conservative majority in the United States rests with "low taxes and the death penalty." At least insofar as the death penalty is concerned, a generation of politicians has cultivated exactly the public sentiment Gingrich was counting on. From Richard Nixon's "law and order" rhetoric to Bill Clinton's pledge to represent people who "work hard and play by the rules," they have insisted on individual responsibility and harsh punishment--and a direct link between the two that excludes consideration of other, social causes of crime, much less social responses to it. In any event, 70 percent of the American public now favors capital punishment. The country clings to it tenaciously long after almost all other democratic nations have abandoned it. Indeed, the political pressure is to reduce procedural protections and expedite the death penalty process so we can carry out more executions. So great is the momentum in favor of executions...