Should we abolish the death penalty?
via AP

Should we abolish the death penalty?

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The death penalty is currently legal in 32 states, yet American support for capital punishment has fallen to its lowest point in over 40 years. Researchers credit the drop in support to numerous high-profile exonerations of death row inmates. Capital punishment is also costly and hasn't been shown to deter crime. But proponents argue it is morally just to kill those who commit heinous crimes, and executing criminals gives closure to the families of the victims. What do you think? ⚖️ 

The Votes Are In!

Pew Research Center found support for the death penalty reached its lowest point in 45 years in 2016, with only 49 percent of Americans now in favor of capital punishment.

Only about half of Americans (49%) now favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder, while 42% oppose it. Support has dropped 7 percentage points since March 2015, from 56%. Public support for capital punishment peaked in the mid-1990s, when eight-in-ten Americans (80% in 1994) favored the death penalty and fewer than two-in-ten were opposed (16%). Opposition to the death penalty is now the highest it has been since 1972.
Support for death penalty continues to fall

In a powerful op-ed in The New York Times, former superintendent of the Oregon State Penitentiary Semon Frank Thompson argues capital punishment is a failed policy that should be abolished.

I lost a close friend, John Tillman Hussey, and a cousin, Louis Perry Bryant — both law enforcement officers themselves — to execution-style murders at the hands of felons who were attempting to avoid arrest. I remember feeling that justice had been served when one of their killers was executed.

While Thompson acknowledges the inclination to want to terminate the lives of violent criminals, he argues that capital punishment is ultimately immoral no matter what the crime. 

I could not see that execution did anything to enhance public safety. While death penalty supporters suggest that capital punishment has the power of deterrence, a 2012 report by the National Research Council found that research “is not informative about whether capital punishment decreases, increases or has no effect on homicide rates.”
I now believed that capital punishment was a dismal failure as a policy.

But proponents of the death penalty believe the U.S. should never abolish the death penalty, even if it has problems.

The FDA, police officers, and other government entities with less constitutional legitimacy than the death penalty (see the Fifth and 14th amendments) have made errors that resulted in innocent deaths. That doesn’t render these entities and their functions illegitimate. It obligates government to do better.

Jonah Goldberg argues in National Review that the moral argument in favor of the death penalty is simple: those who kill deserve to be killed. Any issues that may arise in the process of capital punishment do not themselves invalidate the death penalty as morally correct.

The most cynical argument against the death penalty is to point out how slow and expensive the process is. But it is slow and expensive at least in part because its opponents have made it slow and expensive, so they can complain about how slow and expensive it is.
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