His revisionist history has been widely praised — including by TIME.com's legal columnist — and that's understandable. Stevens is an excellent writer and a charming talker, and he says a number of true things about the death penalty. The system consumes an extraordinary amount of judicial resources to resolve a vanishingly small number of cases. Meanwhile, more than 3,000 condemned prisoners languish indefinitely in expensive death-row lockdowns — many of them for more than a quarter-century and counting. This makes a mockery of the idea of finality in the justice system, and makes our legal institutions look feckless. Stevens hits the nail on the head when he writes, "While support of the death penalty wins votes for some elected officials, all participants in the process must realize the monumental costs that capital cases impose on the judicial system."