Serial killers, child abductors & murderers, armed robbers who kill their compliant victims, gangmembers who stab or beat someone to death for trivial reasons, etc. -- such people should be "deleted" from our society. They should be put down like rabid animals. Not because I hate them or want to hurt them back, but because I think killing them will make society a safer place for the rest of us. Keeping them in prison for life is a waste of tax payer dollars. Why feed and house and care for a serial killer? What is to be gained by this? Nothing, as far as I can see.
Having said that, I will say that I fully support the death penalty in principle but not in practice for the following reasons:
- Jurors are specifically selected for their ignorance of science, logic, and forensics, and for their ability to be swayed by emotion rather than reason and evidence.
- Jurors are forced to be jurors against their will, which means they often don't care about the trial or the suspect and do whatever it takes to end the trial faster.
- Many people have been wrongly convicted on lousy evidence or the testimony of a criminal who was offered a plea-deal to testify against the defendant. In other words, he was told "Incriminate this person in murder, and we'll give you a discount on your sentence." It comes as no surprise that many people have been wrongly convicted on the false testimony of a criminal who had a strong incentive to lie.
- DNA evidence has exculpated many people on Death Row. Who knows how many innocent people have been executed?
- Executions usually cost more than life in prison
For the above reasons, I oppose the death penalty in practice. However, if we had a perfect criminal justice system, meaning one that was efficient and didn't make mistakes, I would be in favor. People who oppose capital punishment even in a theoretically flawless system usually present one of the following arguments:
It's not a deterrent: Yes, I know. The goal here is not to deter others but to kill the criminal. He can't be let out because he's too dangerous, and there's no point in keeping him alive. It's just a waste of tax dollars. He was stripped of his Constitutional right to life when he committed murder, so it's okay to kill him.
You're no better than the murderer: There's a world of difference between killing a murderer and killing an innocent person: The murderer did something to deserve it. Using the reasoning "you're no better than the criminal", we can say that we should not imprison kidnappers, because when we put someone in prison, we are essentially kidnapping them for a period of time. If we imprison a kidnapper, are we "no better than the kidnapper"? Of course not. Imprisoning a criminal who was found guilty in a court of law is fair and just, whereas imprisoning a random person on the street (the way kidnappers do) is immoral and illegal. Same thing with the death penalty. Killing an innocent person and killing a murder are not the same thing.
It's just a form of revenge: No, it's not. If revenge was the goal, I'd want to kill the murderer in the same manner that he killed his victim. That doesn't interest me. However, if the victim's family wants to kill him in as brutal a manner as he killed his victim, then I'm okay with it. The grieving family is entitled to satisfy their feelings of vengeance if it will make them feel better.
Why not just keep him in prison for life? Because it's cheaper to kill him. There are better ways to spend tax dollars than on housing and feeding murderers.
It's inhumane: "Inhumane" means "lacking pity or compassion." I fully admit that I'm inhumane in certain cases. I see no reason to pity someone who breaks into a woman's home and rapes and kills her. What is there to pity? The only pity I have is for the woman and the fact that she didn't have a revolver loaded with hollow-point bullets. Besides, execution with a bullet to the back of the dead is quick, cheap, and painless. It's far more merciful than being forced to spend a lifetime in a cage.