Cornell experts discuss the Pope’s call for judicial reform


Sept. 22, 2015

Cornell experts discuss the Pope’s call for judicial reform

John Blume is a professor of law and the Director of the Cornell Death Penalty Project. Blume believes that this Pope has been more clear than his predecessors in condemning capital punishment.

Blume says:
“Pope Francis has made it plain – much plainer than his predecessors – that capital punishment has outlived its utility. He has pointed out the risk of executing the innocent, the reality of racial discrimination in the application of the death penalty, and the fact that it is no longer needed to incapacitate prisoners given the availability of life without parole and modern, secure prisons.

“While there is still some resistance to his message among conservative church leaders in this country, it appears to be waning as many social and religious conservatives come to the realization that the American death penalty is fundamentally flawed.”


Peter Enns, professor of government, leads the Cornell’s Institute for the Social Science’s project, “Causes, Consequences, and the Future of Mass Incarceration in the United States.” Enns believes public opinion on incarceration and the death penalty is in line with the Pope.

Enns says:
“The U.S. is the most prolific imprisoner in the world and hands down more life sentences and death sentences than any other advanced democracy. Yet, public opinion, political statements and the criminal justice system in the U.S. all seem to be moving in a less punitive direction.”

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