The death penalty is not a deterrent. Murder rates are unaffected by the threat or practice of executions. Deterrence is only effective if the perpetrators expect to be caught, care about dying, or think through the consequences of their actions. Serial, spree, and thrill killers remain undeterred; crimes of passion and gangland violence continue unabated. Compared to life in a violent, dehumanizing, and overcrowded prison, death row offers no deterrent.
Closure is a myth. Causing the death of another, no matter how evil and deserving, neither honors a murdered loved one nor mitigates or compensates for the loss. Vengeance and retribution cannot heal emotional wounds; only positive, constructive acts can mend what has been broken. Besides, any hope of redemption are lost when the axe falls.
Executions are too final and absolute for an imperfect judicial system. Given the mistakes, misjudgments, and manipulation that can occur during a trial, the margin for error is too great to gamble with a person’s life. A rush to execution only exacerbates this problem. Rather than rush automatic appeals and case reviews, justice is served with a life sentence. The costs of capital punishment are more than a free and just society can pay.