S tepping aside from the perennial debate about whether the state should ever have the power to take the life of a citizen convicted of a heinous crime, there are two legal issues that are making implementation of the death penalty more morally worrisome than ever.
First, can executions be done humanely? Court rulings over the decades have narrowed the means by which the justice system is allowed to administer the ultimate punishment, and the method most states have settled on -- lethal injection -- is turning out not to be especially dependable nor humane.
Second, is the government killing innocent people? The advent of DNA testing has made it possible to more accurately identify guilty parties and, more crucially, reveal miscarriages of justice through which the legal system has sent innocent men to death row.