The recent headlines about the “1000th execution in the US since the Death Penalty was reinstated in 1976″ got me doing some reading.
One good point about the situation in the US that I was suprised to see is that apparently the number of executions has declined quite a bit over the last 5 years. This site has some good info on the subject: www.deathpenaltyinfo.org.
I’m also curious about the argument that it’s an effective deterrent. This site claims it’s not The Case Against The Death Penalty. I agree on the grounds that one of the primary criteria for a deterrent needs to be that it’s administered consistently. Few cases that are eligible for the death penalty actually get it. It may be a sufficient deterrent in countries like Iran or Singapore where it is used very consistently. Plus, while I personally wouldn’t care as much about the execution of someone I knew raped and killed a bunch of people, the fact that a conviction for a crime doesn’t correspond 100% to being guilty is important.
To me this seems like yet another policy in the US that attempts to “make people feel better” but doesn’t actually do anything. Another example of this is the “war on drugs”. They spend billions of dollars every year trying to catch somebody smoking a joint in their backyard. They should be spending their money on things that actually cause large-scale harm to their society like violent crime, super-high divorce rates, etc.