The death penalty acts as a deterrent. Under the threat of the death penalty, some offenders think twice about their deed.
No scientific study has yet been able to prove that the death penalty has a greater deterrent effect than a long prison sentence. On the contrary, in U.S. states that have abolished the death penalty, the murder rate is often lower than in states that still retain it.
In the 18th century, even pickpocketing was punishable by death by hanging in England. During public executions of pickpockets, “professional colleagues” always took advantage of favorable opportunities in the crowd to empty the pockets of onlookers. There is probably no better evidence of the ineffectiveness of deterrence.
The causes of criminal behavior are to be found in the complex psychological and social conditions of human existence. It is naïve to believe that this problem can be solved with the death penalty.
The lack of impact of the death penalty in terms of deterrence is also clearly demonstrated in the case of Canada: since its abolition, the murder rate has fallen by almost 24% compared to the period in which the death penalty was still applied.
|“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” Justice means to repay like with like.||To repay like with like would mean to put oneself on the same level with the perpetrator. We also do not rape a rapist or inflict the same injuries in the case of assault.|
The crime is neither diminished nor undone by the execution of the perpetrator. The only purpose of an execution is to satisfy morally unjustifiable needs for revenge. If the state wants to be morally superior to a crime, it may not execute it equally under the guise of a law.
Incidentally, the eye-for-an-eye quote from the Old Testament is repeatedly misinterpreted. It is not a call for retaliation, but a limitation of it, originating in a time when escalating blood revenge was the order of the day. The New Testament goes one step further and advocates not vengeance but forgiveness. (For more information on the Bible and the death penalty, click here – only in German language.)
Terrorism as a special case
|Terrorists attack the state and human society at its roots.||The death penalty does not deter terrorists from their deeds. They are convinced of their deeds and with the brutality with which they usually proceed, they always put their lives at risk or even intend their own death (suicide bombers).|
If one were to argue that a criminal should be executed not because of the cruelty of his deed, but because of the political motivation of the deed (i.e., other criminals who carry out equally cruel deeds for private motives could not be executed), this would be tantamount to punishing the perpetrator much more because of his political opinion than because of his deed. (Douwe Korff, Max Planck Institute, Freiburg)
Moreover, the prospect of capital punishment could be downright “appealing” to a terrorist, as it would give him martyr status and help his group and its goals gain even more popularity.
Protection of Society
|Those who have “the beet off” no longer kill anyone. Those who are potentially predisposed to destroy human lives must be eliminated from society.||The opinion that “he who kills once, kills again and again” cannot be proven statistically. If a society is threatened by violent crime, the death penalty is only a pseudo-protective measure against violent structures that are more deeply rooted.|
Without a doubt, society needs to be protected from dangerous individuals. Today, the incarceration of dangerous individuals is largely solvable.
The state recognizes the right to life and demands respect for this principle from all its citizens. It is therefore not for it to violate the right to life to satisfy any security needs.
Above all, reports and corresponding fiction and film adaptations fuel the popular opinion that there are primarily serial killers on death row. However, libidinous serial killers à la Hannibal Lecter are the absolute exception.
Cost of a life sentence
|Serious criminals can live a carefree life as “state pensioners” at the taxpayers’ expense and are fed with our tax money.||The current costs of an execution in the USA (from the beginning of the trial to the execution of the death sentence) exceed the costs of a life sentence many times over.|
The humane society is a community of solidarity that must also provide the means to treat criminals. Financial considerations – if, moreover, they are provoked by base motives such as ill will and vindictiveness – and the legal principle of the sanctity of life can certainly not be on the same level. It is inhumane from the outset to set off a human life in “costs”.
|A democracy must take into account the will of the people; in most U.S. states, for example, a majority favors the death penalty.||Public opinion is always dangerous because “opinion” is not knowledge. Human instinct cannot be denied, but it can never be the basis for decision-making by an institution such as the judiciary.|
The public judges more radically the less and more superficially informed it is. A large majority of experts (criminologists, criminal lawyers, lawyers, sociologists, psychologists, judges, and prosecutors) are in favor of the worldwide abolition of the death penalty. The reasons are obvious from the above explanations.