Capital Punishment- For or Against?

Is the death penalty morally wrong?  

I suspect that we all agree that, in general, the killing of human beings is immoral.  However, the vast majority of us, me included, make exceptions for a just war, self defense or the defense of innocent bystanders.  Given that killing an already locked up criminal could not argue as being done for defense, I would simply point to the powerful wisdom of, “two wrongs do not make a right.”  “He took someone’s life, and, therefore, the government should be able to take his life” doesn’t hold water, in my opinion, because killing is wrong when it is not in defense.

Government killing the citizens that it governs is particularly concerning to me.  We, the people, should not give this type of power to the fallible, power chasing, money corrupted people that we find in the public sphere.  I believe that the power of the government must be weakened by the people, if they do not need it for our benefit.

Is it a deterrent?

I am not certain.  Luckily, I have never been moved to kill, and could not say if it would deter me.

The social science that I have seen suggests that it isn’t an effective deterrent.  88% of criminologists do not believe that it is an effective deterrent (that means 12% still do obviously).  However, I would be more than willing to look at any evidence that you have to the contrary.

The US states that have death penalty laws do not have lower crime rates or murder rates than states without them. States that have abolished capital punishment show no significant changes in either crime or murder rates.

From my understanding, criminals largely commit murders in the heat of passion, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or because they are mentally ill.  That does not generally lend itself to the weighing of pros and cons i.e. “I may be executed if I am caught, should I do it?” The few murderers who plan their crimes beforehand, i.e. professional assassins, do not expect to be caught. 

Here is the result of an extensive review of the study material available.  The conclusion:

“Those who defend the deterrent value of the death penalty offer little systematic research to support their view. Instead, they rely on an intuitive feeling that capital punishment should be uniquely effective. When the available evidence doesn’t support that conclusion, they argue that the evidence is imperfect. It is. But if there were any substantial net deterrent effect from capital punishment under modern U.S. conditions, the studies we have surveyed should clearly reveal it. They do not.”

Is it cheaper to employ the death penalty vs. life in prison without parole?

There is no disagreement about this.  The death penalty is much more costly.  Here is an analysis by The Balance that walks you through it.  Just for quality sake, I ensured that they were not a biased source.  Here is the media bias rank of The Balance.

What about when the government kills someone and evidence is produced that proves their innocence?  Here is an article summarizing a study that suggests at least 4% of those executed were innocent.  We, the people and our government, will make mistakes and it would be immoral to ignore that fact.  I suspect everyone would agree that one innocent person executed is too many.

Just my opinion.  What do you think?

3 thoughts on “Capital Punishment- For or Against?

  1. The only defensible argument I’ve heard concerning the death penalty is that it’s cathartic. People exhaled in relief when Ted Bundy was executed. “He escaped imprisonment twice and now that monster will never escape, torture and kill again.” That’s true. I get it, but for me catharsis is always a shallow argument to take a human life. Especially, as your wrote, when it is carried out by the “fallible, power chasing, money corrupted people that we find in the public sphere.”

    Liked by 1 person

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