Unlike questions of commercial worthiness, the question of weather the Death Penalty is worth it, is not merely a question of risk/benefit analysis or even if the death penalty is worth it to you, but if it is worth it to ALL of us.

The Death Penalty, or capital punishment, is a punishment carried out by the state, or its agent, with the purpose of ending the life of a convict. It has its roots in ancient history, however in the context of this website, we will restrain our focus to the United States and Modern History. Several methods of execution of a death sentence are available:
  1. Lethal Injection
  2. Electrocution
  3. Gas Chamber
  4. Firing Squad
  5. Hanging
  6. Decapitation
Of these methods, only lethal injection and electrocution are common; the others are usually reserved for situations where lethal injection or electrocution have been ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court. Some states allow the convict to chose his preferred method with a waiver.

The arguments in support of the death penalty can be refined down to:
  1. Deterrent
  2. Cost
  3. Justice
Ultimately, the purpose of the death penalty is to restore justice after a capital offense has occurred.

The legal process for capital punishment is extensive, and begins with sentencing where a court of law imposes the death penalty for a convict. Most convicts then go through three more steps before any sentence of death can be carried out: Direct Review, State Collateral Review, Federal Habeas Corpus, and sometimes a fifth step called Section 1983 Challenge is followed. These administrative procedures were specifically established to protect the convict’s constitutional rights and ensure that justice is maintained.

There is always the chance that if a convict is ever released, they might re-offend and commit the same crime again. This is known as recidivism.

For any prisoner – in for life, on death row, or otherwise – there exists some risk they might escape. Those prisoners on death row would be expected to have more motivation to escape given their death sentence, and hence more of escape risk, but other factors include the added security on death row. In the end, no pun intended, the risks may be equal and a wash.

The greatest risk is arguably that innocent defendants can, and have been, sentenced to capital punishment. While this doesn’t occur frequently, it is by no means rare. So the real risk of capital punishment is that the very justice the death penalty was established to protect may be destroyed. If there is no justice in the death penalty, then the entire argument for it falls apart.

Obviously, when a convict is executed, the recidivism is zero, and there is zero escape risk. The cost benefits are debatable. For some potential capital offenders, there maybe some deterrence from the Death Penalty, but for acts passion and spontaneous acts of murder, the capital punishment may not prove to be much of a deterrent.

When a person is on death row, they are entitled to a natural process of appeal, which is part of the legal administrative process detailed above. This can in many cases equate to the same cost of just keeping them alive for life in a prison cell.

Here we are talking about “you” in the collective sense: what we value. It is easy to say “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth”, but when you actually execute a person you are ending a life. Do you want to give any government, comprised of weak and fallible humans, the right to life and death decisions? Many have argued that the government is the worst party to trust our tax money with, yet trust it to decide the fate of a human life? When is life worth less than money?