CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin explained to HLN’s Nancy Grace on Thursday that life in prison was an appropriate punishment for murder because “executing people is not the only form of justice.”
After the news broke that a second jury had deadlocked on whether or not to give Jodi Arias the death penalty, CNN host Ashleigh Banfield asked Toobin if growing concerns about the death penalty in the United States had impacted the jurors.
“This was a tough case on the death penalty,” Toobin agreed. “It wasn’t a tough case on guilt, it was quite obvious that Jodi Arias was guilty. I think it was a very questionable decision on the part of the prosecution to go back a second time for another very expensive trial on the death penalty to receive precisely the same result, a hung jury.”
“This was a life in prison case,” he said. “And now, that’s the result.”
Grace, however, was not satisfied with that result.
“You could have heard a pin drop in that courtroom, and immediately you could hear it building, the gasps from the victim’s family on the front row,” Grace insisted. “They immediately bent over, doubled in their seats, physically bent over and began crying out in pain.”
“And I always find it very interesting when pundits say, ‘Well, this cost a lot of money, and it wasn’t really a good decision.’ It’s like they’re buying a car or they’re making some kind of investment in their fidelity fund,” she snarled with out mentioning Toobin by name. “Well, you know what? Violent crime is not like that. We are talking about people’s lives. We are talking about a family who lost Travis Alexander.”
“Now, when you are defending someone, those very same pundits, ‘No, no expense in defending someone.’ But what I want to say right now is this family has been through hell!” Grace exclaimed. “And their hell is not over yet because the sentencing is not complete.”
Toobin interrupted: “You know what? Executing people is not the only form of justice in this country.”
“In fact, it is a largely discredited form of justice in this country, Nancy,” he argued. “And a lot of people on the left, on the right — the death penalty is in great decline in this country because so many innocent people have been on death row, because so many inappropriate sentences have been reached.”
“So, the idea that there is injustice because Jodi Arias is not going to be stuffed into a gas chamber or put in lethal injection is not necessarily the case. And it indicates no insensitivity to the victims who have suffered horribly in this case that she will not be executed.”
“Is that a question?” Grace shot back. “I mean, I don’t even know what that was. I’m happy to hear your opinion.”
Watch the video below from CNN, broadcast March 5, 2015.