ON JUNE 29, death penalty abolitionists gathered for a four-day fast and vigil on the steps of the Supreme Court. The fast began on the anniversary of the 1972 decision that struck down the death penalty as unconstitutional and ended on the anniversary of the court’s 1976 decision to reinstate it. These activists serve as witnesses to the full arc of the political climate in which the death penalty exists in the United States.
There were signs a year ago that the death penalty in the U.S. was on its last legs. More recently, capital punishment is resurging, a shift fueled by politicians projecting fear on an anxious public. But there is hope.