One of my favorite questions is “What’s the last significant opinion you changed?”
A few months ago my answer was the death penalty, and since then I’ve had some opinions on education and assisted suicide change.
This is a short summary of why I hold a view in opposition to the death penalty.
What ultimately changed my opinion: I do not trust the justice system to consistently convict the guilty.
Since 1973, there have been 1,516 executions, 172 incorrect death sentences (11.35%) and 18 possible innocent executions, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Are some crimes so egregious they deserve death? Maybe.
Does the death penalty deter crime? There is evidence both ways, I lean towards no.
“…people who commit murders do so largely in the heat of passion, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or because they are mentally ill, giving little or no thought to the possible consequences of their acts.” Apr. 9, 2007 – American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Even if this argument doesn’t hold, from a cost benefit perspective I’d rather life in prison than run the risk of killing innocent people. Ending a life is too grave a consequence to gamble with.
Additionally, I don’t believe any life is devoid of the possibility of restoration.
Does the death penalty cost less than keeping prisoners? No.
The death penalty evaluation process is extremely long (and we still get it wrong too frequently) and costly “[the lengthy process has]…increased the cost of capital punishment so that it is now many times the cost of keeping a prisoner in prison for life.” Apr. 18, 2012 – Charles M. Harris, JD
If you disagree with me, I respect that and would be curious to hear why.
I could be wrong, a lot of smart people (like Justice Scalia) disagree with me.
Whatever opinion you hold make it your own. Vet it thoroughly and think for yourself.