The Heart Has Its Value: The Death Penalty's Justifiable Persistence

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This short comment responds to Susan Bandes' assertion that putting emotions "at the center of the debate about [capital punishment's] fate" will lead the death penalty to "die a well-deserved death." On the contrary, reengaging with emotion will reinvigorate capital punishment. Capital emotions are more nuanced than Bandes suggests in distinguishing which killers are so evil that they deserve the ultimate penalty. She prefers the warm-and-fuzzy emotion of empathy, but offers little justification for squelching the visceral capital emotions. Perhaps Vulcan criminal justice would not need to vent outrage at the worst killers, but human criminal justice must and inevitably will. The essay by Susan Bandes to which this comment responds, as well as other authors' comments on this essay and the author's reply to those comments, can be found at


criminal justice, criminal procedure, capital punishment, death penalty, emotion, capital emotions

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Criminal Law Conversations

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In Paul H. Robinson et al. (eds.), Criminal Law Conversations 643-645 (2009)