Will capital punishment ever be abolished in the US? Why or why not?   no comments

Answer by Tim Dees:

I believe it will eventually be abolished, but not anytime soon.

There is still an ethos of retribution in our justice system. People don’t just want lawbreakers to be stopped–they want them to pay, eye for an eye style. The efficacy of this philosophy as a crime deterrent is ignored. Increasing the penalty for a crime has a negligible effect. If the penalty is a long or lifetime prison sentence and that is raised to capital punishment, I’m not convinced it has any effect at all.

States are highly reluctant to allow examination of evidence in cases where someone has been found responsible and executed. The primary reason given is that it is a waste of public resources with no benefit, but I think a larger reason is that it would eventually be shown that an innocent person was executed. People on death row have already been exonerated of the crimes for which they were convicted. I think it’s all but certain we have already executed someone who really didn’t do it.

Anti-capital punishment advocates would hang their hat on such as case as a rationale for abolishing the death penalty, and the pro-death penalty advocates are not going to give them that tool if they can do anything about it.

I don’t know of a single bit of research on capital punishment that shows that it works any better than any other method, except that it satisfies the public’s need for vengeance. Many would support more a grisly means of execution in place of a painless death from an overdose of anesthetic. I find it instructional that most people who have taken part in the execution of a prisoner are thereafter reluctant to do it again, and many change their minds about the morality of the death penalty. It’s one thing to read about an execution in the newspaper or see it as a 90-second spot on the 6 o’clock news, but very much another to watch such a thing up close and personal.

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Written by Tim Dees on June 26th, 2014