I don't believe in the death penalty. As a law student studying Criminology, I learned that since most crimes are either pre-meditated or crimes of passion, nothing works as a deterrent. Pre-meditated murder denotes a screw loose so not easily deterred by anything. Having visited many prisons and talked to scores of convicted felons, I know that most felons don't weight up the sentence they are likely to get; they weigh up whether or not they are going to get caught and take the risk accordingly.
Crimes of passion are spur of the moment crimes and again, rarely deterred by a sentence of any kind.
And then there are the countless individuals who are sitting on death row as we speak, who didn't commit the crime for which they were convicted. Inmates spend a long time on death row because of their automatic right to appeals. Fortunately, some of the innocent ones find champions on the outside who fight for re-investigations using modern DNA sampling techniques. In Illinois alone in the last decade, there were so many death row inmates found to have been incorrectly convicted that the then Governor put a stay on all executions.
And then there's the whole moral issue, which I won't go into.
I'm feeling slightly different about the whole thing at the moment though.
You may be familiar with the Petit Family murders, which were committed in 2007 in Connecticut. It was one of the most brutal stories I've heard in a long time, and the details haunted me for days after reading about them. Two ex-cons out on parole had apparently planned a house robbery, which very quickly turned into a bloody massacre with the mother and two daughters (17 and 11) being cruelly assaulted/raped and tortured before being murdered. The daughters had gasoline poured over them and were burnt alive. The father had been savagely beaten with a baseball bat, tied up and left for dead. He is the sole survivor and has just sat through the entire trial, hearing evidence that no husband and parent should ever have to.
Yesterday the first of the two perpertrators was sentenced to death. Given what he did, I have to say, I don't really care.....