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More Perfect: Cruel and Unusual

More Perfect: Cruel and Unusual

Update: 2019-08-0972
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Description

On the inaugural episode of More Perfect, we explore three little words embedded in the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: “cruel and unusual.” America has long wrestled with this concept in the context of our strongest punishment, the death penalty. A majority of “we the people” (61 percent, to be exact) are in favor of having it, but inside the Supreme Court, opinions have evolved over time in surprising ways.


And outside of the court, the debate drove one woman in the UK to take on the U.S. death penalty system from Europe. It also caused states to resuscitate old methods used for executing prisoners on death row. And perhaps more than anything, it forced a conversation on what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.


Special thanks to Claire Phillips, Nina Perry, Stephanie Jenkins, Ralph Dellapiana, Byrd Pinkerton, Elisabeth Semel, Christina Spaulding, and The Marshall Project


Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate


Also! We’re working on collecting some audience feedback so we can do a better job of getting our show out to all of you, interacting with you, and reaching new people. We’d love to hear from you. Go to www.radiolab.org/survey to participate.

Comments (3)

Gabriella Arroyo

is that quarter billion value real and unique? like, wouldn't there still be expensive trials and appeals on life sentences?

Aug 13th
Reply (1)

Kurben Nnm

The irony of praying for the strength to break the 6th commandment is lost on those folks

Aug 9th
Reply
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More Perfect: Cruel and Unusual

More Perfect: Cruel and Unusual

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