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The Virtues of Thinking Small

16 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2014  

Corinna Lain

University of Richmond - School of Law

Date Written: 2013


Death penalty scholars have at times extolled the virtues of thinking small when considering the death penalty’s future — it may be that a single blockbuster event leads to the collapse of the death penalty, they say, but the more likely scenario is a cauldron of micro-factors that simply make it too politically and economically costly to maintain. In this symposium contribution, I take up the charge to think small about the death penalty, examining how individual actors (some small, some large) are impacting the administration of the death penalty in the United States. I first discuss a few noteworthy examples of thinking small. Then I discuss the substantial impact these actions have had on the death penalty in practice, and how that impact has fundamentally changed America’s death penalty debate. I then conclude with my own take — one that celebrates the virtues of thinking small about the death penalty but laments the need to do so.

Keywords: death penalty, capital punishment

Suggested Citation

Lain, Corinna, The Virtues of Thinking Small (2013). 67 University of Miami Law Review 397 (2013). Available at SSRN:

Corinna Lain (Contact Author)

University of Richmond - School of Law ( email )

28 Westhampton Way
Richmond, VA 23173
United States

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