Watch John Oliver Take on the Death Penalty on “Last Week Tonight”


On Sunday’s episode of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver weighed in on the recent botched execution in Oklahoma, the president’s response to it, and the death penalty in general. “The death penalty is like the McRib,” Oliver says. “When you can’t have it, it’s so tantalizing. But as soon as they bring it back, you think, ‘This is ethically wrong. Should this be allowed in a civilized society?'”

Here’s more from Oliver:

It costs up to 10 times more to give someone the death penalty than life in prison. So what a death sentence is really saying is, “Hey! This is America! And the way we treat the most despicable members of our society is by spending the entire budget of the Lord of the Rings trilogy on them.” So what we know now is the death penalty is expensive, potentially kills innocent people, and doesn’t deter crime. And here is where it gets hard—harder than is potentially appropriate for a comedy show late on a Sunday night. But if we are going to answer difficult and profound questions…the toughest one is probably if someone is guilty of committing a horrible crime, and the family of the victim want the perpetrator executed, do we want to live in the kind of country that gives that to them? I would say no. You might, very reasonably, say yes…But it’s a question that is going to need an answer.

The whole segment is very good. Check out the 12-minute clip:

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest