What are the advantages and disadvantages of the death penalty?

Answer

The advantages and disadvantages of the death penalty depend upon the side of the argument. According to an article on the Santa Clara University website, the advantages that proponents espouse include a moral obligation for justice and crime deterrence. Opponents claim that the disadvantages include capital punishment for those wrongly convicted, the devaluation of all human life and the inability to deter crime.

Deterrent effects are debatable. Studies show no significant effect in a correlation between capital punishment and deterrence, according to Professor Jeffrey Fagan of Columbia Law School. Studies indicate that the lowest possible deterrence effect is actually for capital punishment crimes. However, early proponents point to studies that show a decrease in the overall crime rate and homicide. Studies also show that it is more costly to execute a prisoner than to keep a prisoner in prison for life. Supporters, however, believe that the appeals process is the greatest contributor to this issue.

Constitutional issues regarding the death penalty also provide advantages and disadvantages. According to class resources from the University of Colorado Boulder, opponents believe that capital punishment denies the right to due process and is a cruel and unusual punishment. However, state legislation based on federal court cases provides restrictions on the application of the death penalty to attempt to maintain constitutional standards, such as limits on capital punishment for those with intellectual disabilities.

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