There are countless arguments for and against the death penalty. In an imperfect world where we can never be sure we have ever got the “worst of the worst” is it ever justified to take a life?
We must challenge the notion of “an eye for an eye” and here are some reasons why.
• Social scientists have been unable to prove any deterrent value in the death penalty.
• Further, studies have shown consistently that it is more costly for a state to condemn a criminal to death, due to the constitutional safeguards that must be observed, than it is to imprison that criminal for the entirety of his or her life, without parole until their natural death.
Additionally, some police science professors have begun to argue that the implementation of a capital sentence may, in fact, result in a corresponding rise in the murder rate. The example of the state taking a life, no matter how carefully, apparently desensitizes people to the value of life, and implies that killing another human being is an appropriate solution to a problem. Murder rates tend to rise in the immediate aftermath of an execution.
Even families and friends of victims are of different views on the value of the death penalty and whether it contributes to healing their hurt and loss, and its consequences for the social order and peace.
In summary, the following points have been made by social scientists, legal experts, and social ethicists regarding capital punishment:
• that capital punishment has been proven to be unfairly administered to the poor, the uneducated, those who cannot afford private legal counsel, and on the basis of the race of both the criminal and the victim;
• that the American Bar Association has called for a moratorium on the administration of capital punishment until such inequities can be removed,
• that there is no proven deterrent value to the death penalty;
• that the death penalty is more costly, financially, to the state than incarcerating the prisoner for life; that capital punishment is an irremediable punishment;
• and that there may be a concomitant rise in the murder rates of a state in which the death penalty is administered.
Therefore, by these measures alone, capital punishment, as it is currently applied, is not just and equitable, and therefore does not enhance the upbuilding of a just and caring society.
(Excerpt taken from KCC's Death Penalty Policy Statement)