Since 2013, there has been no discernible change in public opinion vis-à-vis the death penalty, the recent botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma notwithstanding. Sixty-one percent are still morally comfortable with executing criminals convicted of heinous and monstrous crimes, according to a new Gallup study:
I oppose the death penalty on religious grounds. But I’m also troubled by the fact that an alarmingly high number of inmates sentenced to death are innocent. Should this not concern us? It is of course true that there is something unseemly about glossing over the lives of victims while at the same time professing the right to life of cold-blooded killers in pursuit of an agenda. But if the state is routinely sentencing innocents to death, isn’t it time to re-evaluate this life-ending procedure? At the same time, the evidence is hardly settled that capital punishment deters violent crime -- perhaps the best argument in defense of the death penalty. To what end, then, does the death penalty serve? You can argue -- and many people do, of course -- that in most instances the condemned deserve to die. That is, the punishment fits the crime. But I would argue that a life spent in contemplation behind bars can be a far, far worse fate than the finality of death.
Perhaps none of these arguments will shake your support for the death penalty. But I do believe there are better and more humane ways to rid ourselves of violent criminals. The solution need not always end with the tip of a needle.
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