13 Reasons to Oppose the Death Penalty

old testament stoning
Old Testament Punishment for Adultery, Homosexuality, Disobeying Parents, etc.
Photo Credit: Bible Vector

There are hundreds of rational reasons and thousands of wrongly-accused executions to oppose the death penalty but only one emotional reason to support it. Let's admit it - we want someone to pay for the murder of our loved ones - anyone, as long as we satisfy our blood-lust for revenge.

Here are 13 non-emotional reasons, not the top 13, but simply 13 out of many, many reasons to stop this primitive, uncivilized practice.

  1. Only Barbaric Nations Have the Death Penalty.

    As I explained in my article Killing when No One has Died, no civilized country in this century employs the death penalty. As proof, consider the following barbaric nations that permit their government to murder human beings: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo (Democratic Republic), Cuba, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guyana, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, North Korea, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe. And The United States.

    Why are we in the company of savage, barbaric, primitive, brutal nations?

  2. It is unintentionally biased against other races.

    As I noted in my article Hundreds of People May Need to Change Their Name Because of the Black Panthers there is an infamous concept in psychology known as the 'Other Race Effect.' People are able to differentiate between faces of their own race better than between the faces of other races and so white witnesses will by necessity mis-identify black defendants.

  3. It is intentionally biased against other races.

    While blacks may unintentionally be wrongly accused of murder, once they are convicted they are more likely to be executed if they murdered a white person than vice-versa. That is, blacks are frequently put to death for murdering whites, but whites are almost never executed for murdering blacks (1).

  4. DNA Evidence Cannot Prevent the Execution of an Innocent Man

    As mentioned in my article DNA Does not always Catch the Guilty, DNA cannot be used in 80% of crimes and so is not available to exculpate the innocent from wrongful execution.

  5. Forensic evidence is unreliable

    I have reported earlier the fact that the National Academy of Sciences has found that FBI Forensic Analyses is unreliable.

  6. Fingerprint Evidence is Unreliable

    I have reported earlier the fact that police have fabricated fingerprint evidence if they think a perp is guilty and there is no other evidence available to convict.

  7. Confessions are not reliable

    As mentioned in my article Admission of Guilt Means Nothing, there are too many instances where admissions of guilt, even by 5 defendants at one time, were later shown to be worthless and pointed to defendants innocent of the crime.

  8. Most prosecutors game the system against the accused

    As I have previously reported, most prosecutors tamper with evidence, hide exculpatory evidence, and coerce defendants to confess to a crime they did not commit because they have no desire in furthering the interests of justice but only to advancing their careers.

  9. Eyewitness testimony is wrong 75% of the time

    Scientists have found that in cases where we know through DNA exoneration that the defendant was innocent, eyewitness identifications were mistaken 75% of the time.

  10. There is no UNDO button

    While we can always correct a mistaken murder conviction by releasing the innocent from prison, there is no way to make the correction if we execute. And yes, we have proven instances of executing the wrong person through a study done by the Northwestern University School of Law where at least 39 executions were carried out in the United States despite compelling evidence of innocence.

  11. The Death Penalty is no deterrence to murder

    There are people who believe we never landed on the moon. Similarly there are people who believe the death penalty is a deterrence to murder. The opposite is true - the death penalty in fact increases the incidence of murders in a state if it has the death penalty. That is, death penalty states overwhelmingly end up with a higher murder rate than bordering states that have no death penalty.

    Related to this is the argument that if we execute murderers then we prevent future murders. No, the majority of murders are committed by first-time offenders who have never murdered before. If we want to prevent future murders we need to execute people who have never murdered before. But let's assume for the moment that executing people to prevent future murders is a valid reason for the death penalty. But then it's also true that life without parole also prevents future murders and so that is a valid reason NOT to execute people.

  12. The Number of Innocent Men on Death Row is Staggering

    For every 7 executions–486 since 1976–1 other prisoner on death row has been found innocent.

  13. The Death Penalty Costs States Millions of Dollars More

    Since 1978 in California alone the death penalty has cost the state billions of dollars more than if it had life without parole instead (2).

  14. Long ago, more than two millennia, Jewish sages wisely realized the truth of the preceding 13 reasons to oppose the death penalty and consequently put in so many restrictions that Capital Punishment was effectively abolished and thus no Jew thereafter was ever executed for disobeying a Commandment of the Old Testament or the breaking of any Jewish law.

    If Jews more than 2,000 years ago recognized that the death penalty was too barbaric, too prone to error, too inhumane, too savage, and too primitive for civilized people, what does that say about America in the 21st century?

    This has been a Thursday 13 post [# 109] and is updated on some Thursdays.



Death Penalty Information Center, The Death Penalty in Black and White: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Decides

The existing data clearly suggest that many of the death sentences are a product of racial discrimination. There is no way to maintain our avowed adherence to equal justice under the law, while ignoring such racial injustice in the state's taking of life.


Death Penalty Information Center, Financial Facts About the Death Penalty


Assessment of Costs by Judge Arthur Alarcon and Prof. Paula Mitchell (2011, updated 2012)

The authors concluded that the cost of the death penalty in California has totaled over $4 billion since 1978:

  • $1.94 billion--Pre-Trial and Trial Costs
  • $925 million--Automatic Appeals and State Habeas Corpus Petitions
  • $775 million--Federal Habeas Corpus Appeals
  • $1 billion--Costs of Incarceration

The authors calculated that, if the Governor commuted the sentences of those remaining on death row to life without parole, it would result in an immediate savings of $170 million per year, with a savings of $5 billion over the next 20 years.

See DPIC's Summary of 2011 California Cost Study

Report of the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice (2008):

### End of my article ###

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