Whether it's because of botched attempts like the recent "macabre screw-ups" in Oklahoma and Ohio or the increasing number of cases in which death row inmates are exonerated, the case for capital punishment seems to get weaker with every new execution.
Here are three reasons to get rid of the death penalty.
1. The death penalty is too expensive.
Between 1980 and 2012, California spent $4 billion administering death penalty cases while actually executing just 13 individuals, according to a study produced by Loyola Marymount Law Professor Paula Mitchell. When the death penalty is in play, she says, "the legal costs [per case] skyrocket to an extra $134 million per year, well above the cost to implement life without possibility of parole."
Given the legitimate need to hear appeals in death penalty cases, there will never be a way to make killing people less expensive that paying for them to serve out life sentences.
2. The death penalty doesn't deter crime.
A 2009 study by University of Colorado scholars published in the Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology concludes flatly "the consensus among criminologists is that the death penalty does not add any significant deterrent effect above that of long-term imprisonment." Fully 88 percent of criminal-justice experts responding to a poll saying the death penalty does not act as a deterrent of murder.
What's more, the murder rate per 100,000 residents in non-death-penalty states has been consistently lower than the rate in states with executions.
3. The government shouldn't kill people.
The state's first role—and arguably its only one—is protecting the lives and property of its citizens. In everything it does—from collecting taxes to seizing property for public works to incentivizing "good" behaviors and habits—it should use the least violence or coercion possible.
No matter how despicable murderers can be, the state can make sure we're safe by locking them up behind bars for the rest of their—and our—lives. That's not only a cheaper answer than state-sanctioned murder, it's a more moral one, too.
Written and narrated by Nick Gillespie. Produced by Meredith Bragg and Joshua Swain.
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This video is based on a longer, link-rich article Gillespie wrote for The Daily Beast. Go here to read the original.