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:

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.