At a glance, it is easy to see why people are opposed to the death penalty— it just seems like the systematic extermination of people who are given no chance to learn from their mistakes. However, capital punishment is not as inhumane as it looks. Rather, it is a necessity if we want to maintain a just and orderly society.
The policy of capital punishment is no secret: if someone knew what was going to happen as a result of a crime and still chose to commit it, they had an understanding of the consequences and should be able to face them. While this may sound drastic, the types of crimes that merit the death penalty are all extreme, like intentional murder, treason, drug trafficking, or bombing an aircraft or bus terminal. Anyone who would consciously choose to partake in one of these crimes does not deserve to live comfortably in prison. Take Samuel Little, a serial killer who is connected to over 50 murders across California and Texas. He is confirmed by the FBI to be the most productive serial killer in U.S. history, and there are still many victims of his that haven’t been identified or received justice quite yet. Your tax dollars could fund a secure and sheltered lifestyle for a man like this who openly brags about his crimes, or they can fund the death of the murderer. This choice isn’t the most pleasant, but it shouldn’t be difficult.
There is also the policy of deterrence: the death penalty sets an example as a punishment for potential murderers. This deters would-be murderers from committing their crime, effectively instilling the fear of dying into them.
One may argue that there is the risk of sentencing someone to death who is actually innocent. While this is true, the risk is very small due to how our criminal justice system works. It’s not perfect, but there are built in fail-safes for this reason specifically. It often takes years for someone to be executed, giving them more than enough time to be acquitted of their crimes. On the off chance that this fails, the government’s system of checks and balances gives all people on death row a chance to have their sentence changed. If someone is determined, they can always appeal their case to federal courts or even to the executive branch of government. This policy is called clemency, and it gives the executive branch the authority to check the power of a court’s decision.
An example of this being used would be the 2017 case of Isaiah McCoy, a black man who was sentenced to death in 2012 after being accused of shooting someone during a drug deal. He used his right to retrial to get his case reviewed. Due to misconduct by the deputy attorney general on his case, McCoy’s case was handed over to the Delaware Supreme Court, where he was acquitted and freed when insufficient evidence was found. The government, which is the basis of our organized society, has a constitutional duty to balance individual rights with the liberty of the majority. The death penalty takes the lives of murderers in order to emphasize the protection of the masses. If there were no central power that could put its foot down in the face of something as gruesome as murder, then we would fall into chaos; people would be under the impression that they could take someone’s life and still have the chance to walk away unscathed and unpunished. It is the government’s obligation to prioritize the wellbeing of the innocent.