There are several issues that routinely create heated debate year after year. The death penalty rests firmly near the top of that list. The arguments, both for and against, are compelling and valid. The essential arguments on either end should be analyzed to find their merit.
Pro: Some of the arguments for capital punishment rest on the fact that committing murder is an immoral act. Therefore, it is believed by many that the death penalty is a morally sound outcome and judgment for those convicted of murder. Furthermore, capital punishment is more often sought for those who are convicted of crimes that involve children or that have been committed by utilizing various depravities, including terror, torture and rape. All murder is, of course, against the moral code of those with a sane mind, but certain circumstances usually bring out the protective nature of decent people. This results in stronger support for the death penalty when the victims are among the most vulnerable in society.
Con: On the other side of the argument, those who are opposed to capital punishment believe that the outcome is, in and of itself, immoral. While no one supports the idea of any murderer being free, the divide between those who call for death and those who call for life in prison without parole is vast. For those in support of life in prison, any state-sponsored killing of a convict is immoral.
Risk of Error and Mistaken Conviction:
Pro: While it is true that prior to modern techniques that are able to pinpoint DNA and verify these results, there were undoubtedly occasions in which a wrongfully convicted person ended up being put to death. However, the risk of an innocent person landing on death row today is minimal. Processing of evidence is highly sensitive and specific. DNA is no longer an uncertain science and has quickly progressed beyond older identification methods such as simple fingerprinting. Modern science can find and test blood, semen, skin cells and human hair. This makes it far more likely that the person convicted of the crime is the perpetrator. The risk of a mistaken conviction is nearly non-existent.
Con: Those who express their opposition to capital punishment state that any risk, no matter how small, is unacceptable. They take the view that it is better to set free ten guilty people than to risk putting someone to death mistakenly. While science has made vast improvements in identification, those who are opposed to the death penalty claim that the biggest errors are made by human investigators who collect the evidence, not the scientific methods used in testing.
Capital punishment will probably remain a hot-button issue. Some claim it is a deterrent, while others say that it has no effect. Some say it is cruel for a family to have to watch their loved one put to death by the state. Others ask why that concern should matter, since the victim’s family had no choice. Both sides make valid arguments. This debate will rage on.
Matt likes to bring up un-biased opinions on current legal debates. He is an experienced criminal lawyer who defends all types of criminal charges.