On Thursday evening, almost three decades after he committed his crimes, Cory Johnson will be put to death for a month-long murder spree that took the lives of seven people in 1992.
Johnson's death sentence, the 12th in outgoing president Donald Trump's spate of executions, has predictably attracted last-minute arguments from opponents of capital punishment. Such critics tend to skirt both the bloody particulars of capital offenders' acts and the moral permissibility of capital punishment itself—avoiding outright condemnation of a punishment a majority of Americans consistently label as moral.
Instead, critics tend to focus on technical objections to any given execution. In this case, Johnson's lawyers have argued that their client is intellectually incompetent to be executed, citing childhood slowness and a revision to his tested IQ score. The view has gained widespread attention, including in a lengthy defense of the killer by Elizabeth Bruenig in Monday's New York Times.
Charles Fain Lehman is an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute, working primarily on the Policing and Public Safety Initiative, and a staff writer with the Washington Free Beacon, where he covers domestic policy from a data-driven perspective.
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