PUBLIC OPINION > The Death Penalty Is Necessary

News 2012/04/25 17:00:00
The death penalty is a complicated and controversial topic, evidenced by the fact that 16 states refuse to practice it, and more are struggling to decide. California is the latest state to challenge the death penalty, and they're taking an unusual route -- the ballot. California voters will actually get to decide whether or not to repeal the death penalty this year, and commute the sentences of more than 700 death row inmates. We took it to a broader audience first.

The death penalty is controversial, but the overall vote was still firmly in favor. Supporters just couldn't entertain the thought of letting a criminal guilty of horrible crimes have the luxury of hope, particularly in the case of heinous murders, aggravated rape, and the like. Some also argued that the death penalty is a deterrent. On the other side of the argument, there is the possibility of executing an innocent. The Top Opinion wrote, "Better that we should jail the scum for life than inadvertently put to death one innocent person."

Liberals Let Them Live

Politics play an obvious role, but the reason behind the distinction is less obvious. The fiscal elements seem incidental, and it's not your typical "family values" case, either. It does resemble anti-war sentiment in the sense that there is a strong opposition to the risk of innocent life. But liberals weren't as against it as conservatives were for it, hence the overall.

California for Capital Punishment

Though California has recently been a Democratic majority, it's still strongly in support of the death penalty. It could be that the volume of death row inmates worries residents enough to keep the practice in place. In New York, where the death penalty was ruled unconstitutional in 2004, support was much lower.

Against It Overseas

It's a hot issue in California right now, but the death penalty is a global issue. It's still practiced in China, India, Indonesia, and the U.S. -- the four most populous countries in the world -- but the UN General Assembly issued a moratorium, and it's been abolished in most of the world, including all of South America and Europe (except Belarus).

If you'd like to vote on this question, dig deeper into the demographics, or engage in existing discussion about the topic, visit our poll about the death penalty. We'd love to hear from you!
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Top Opinion

  • holieberie 2012/04/25 18:51:56
    Do you realize how much money it costs to keep these "murderer's" in prison? How much tax dollars it costs? These people who are put on death row are well aware of their actions. They chose to make those choices...taking another life, They deserve to feel that pain as well. And eye for an eye. If I could, I would have each one killed the same way they killed their victims. It would make people think a lot harder for their actions

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  • AndyManor 2013/03/24 06:47:39
    It costs far more to execute an individual than to imprison them for life without the possibility or parole. Now in Florida, where I live, any crime classified as a life felony, or a capital felony has an automatic appeal. Now in most non-death penalty cases the case will go to one of the five District Courts of Appeal, and the case will be decided on the briefs. In a death penalty case the Florida Supreme Court must hear the case. It takes anywhere from 3 to 5 years for the case to be heard in the Florida Supreme Court. You then have your Federal habeas corpus appeals.

    The case begins in the Federal District Courts, which you're typically looking at another 2 or 3 year wait. Then you have the Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal which will take even more time. You cannot use the same briefs in each following court either. It takes some time do the necessary research and write the brief. Each layer of appeals must also review the transcript of the case when it was in the lower court.
  • Chris Bernstien 2012/07/10 07:44:31
    Chris Bernstien
    The arguments in support of the ballot measure to abolish the death penalty are exaggerated at best and, in most cases, misleading and erroneous. The Act would only make our prisons less safe for both other prisoners and prison officials, significantly increase the costs to taxpayers due to life-time medical costs, the increased security required to coerce former death-row inmates to work, etc. The amount “saved” in order to help fund law enforcement is negligible and only for a short period of time. Bottom line, the “SAFE” Act is an attempt by those who are responsible for the high costs and lack of executions to now persuade voters to abandon it on those ground. Obviously, these arguments would disappear if the death penalty was carried forth in accordance with the law. Get the facts at and supporting evidence at http://cadeathpenalty.webs.com.
  • Brandon 2012/05/16 00:15:41
    Who gives someone the right to take another life? The death penalty is is nothing more than state sanctioned murder. They broke the law they lose their rights, you have no power to take their life no matter how heinous the crime.
  • Chris B... Brandon 2012/07/11 04:49:32
    Chris Bernstien
    You are confused, as are many today, about "rights." Rights are limits on governmental authority. What we are speaking of here is authority. The authority to punish, including the death penalty, is given by the people to the state. The state has authority the people individually do not. Just as it is illegal for a citizen to imprison another citizen, the state is given that authority by the people.
  • Brandon Chris B... 2012/07/11 15:27:06
    I will give you your argument on governmental authority, seeming that I already know and understand that rights are given, not some magical power you just have at birth.

    However this seems to be a lot about semantics. Whether you call them rights or governmental authority it "means" the same thing. We allow the government the authority to imprison people to help protect peoples whom have had their rights (limits on government authority) violated. I still stand by the argument that if murder is wrong, then so it stands that just because the state has the authority to commit it does not make it more right. It simply makes it state sanctioned murder.
  • jackolantyrn356 2012/04/29 17:43:57
    Problem is that the Democrats are in charge as usual. The use of ACORN is more than getting a little boring.
  • Grammar Freak 2012/04/29 13:23:39
    Grammar Freak
    I don't know that I agree with the word "necessary."
    I do know that I want states to have the choice to have or not have the death penalty as the state sees fit.
    It's expensive. I'd like to see the costs for capital murder cases go down, but I don't know how that'd be possible.
    However, the point is that I do agree with the death penalty in some cases & I believe it is good that we have it.
    I just don't know that it is "necessary." I'm pretty sure that our nation wouldn't collapse were it not available any longer.
  • Indierail 2012/04/29 08:10:53
    We kill people who kill people because killing people is wrong? You completely lose the moral high-ground when you advocate the taking of anyone's life. Just because it's state-sponsored doesn't make it any less of a murder. You become what you are attempting to destroy, making your actions no less disgusting than the offender.

    As for the ignorant "Top Opinion" regarding the costs I would encourage people to look into some of the facts that back their opinion before making statements. If they did we wouldn't have to waste time on stupid statements like "it costs more money to keep them alive than if we were to execute them". This is completely false with far too many examples of cost studies that have been performed by local, state, federal, private, not-for-profit, foundational and educational organizations to list refuting this ignorant belief.
  • Grammar... Indierail 2012/04/29 12:58:01
    Grammar Freak
    I disagree.
    I do not think the death penalty is in place because killing is "wrong." Personally, I believe there is a time & place where killing is not wrong.
    However, the reason we have the death penalty in the US is because we feel that we need to eliminate the potential of certain individuals from ever mingling among the general population, procreating &/or us having to pay for the existence of a person who's committed certain heinous crimes, not to mention that it is also cruel to keep a human in a hole or a cage.
    The cost you are referring to is the cost of the court & attorney fees.
  • Indierail Grammar... 2012/05/01 07:32:43
    So I am curious when killing is appropriate and I certainly hope you aren't going to come with a circular argument like "when someone kills another"?

    As for the cost thing all I can say is that the court and attorney's fees are a lot of the cost I'm referring to yes, but the condemned get 14 years of appeals that are automatically triggered. Plus maximum security unlike any other inmates. Their handling costs are extreme. In addition it costs on average $1 million for a capital case so since when is that not relevant? when are the costs to try these cases not part of the equation? How about the 14 years of appeal? Like I said too many sources to list refuting the cost statement. Look it up; I'm not going to research a moot point for you.

    All of the above is to refute the cost statement but the costs aren't the only reason, in fact they are the last one I'd cite. The moral and ethical issues as well as the unfair ethnic bias coupled with human errors and wrongful prosecution and you'd have to be an idiot to think we should be doing this with 100% certainty.

    But I'm most curious about your "right" time to kill a person. Please do tell.
  • Grammar... Indierail 2012/05/01 08:46:23 (edited)
    Grammar Freak
    I think I explained myself quite succinctly in the post above. However, if you'd like a more detailed description of my personal views, okay. But they're my personal views, not my political views... keep that in mind.

    Well, I'm a little less politically correct than most of the members of this forum regarding that (& other) issue(s). I've traveled a bit & I've witnessed other cultures' ways of handling things.

    Of course, I believe that it is always appropriate to use whatever force is necessary to stop someone from hurting one's child. A parent is a different breed of cat from a non-parent & when a child is being hurt (raped, beaten, etc.) I think that a parent's natural instincts kick in & all hell breaks loose on the perpetrator. That's just the way it is. The idea that he/she should be able to hold him/herself back, is simply not reasonable. Rationale about anything else but their child goes completely out the window. It's expected. It's natural. I cannot blame a parent for defending his/her child (in almost all cases). And it does not matter how old the child is... to a parent, that person will ALWAYS be his/her child.
    I was in West Africa during an interesting time. There was a pervert who'd cornered a couple of young kids (boys & girls). The citizens of the commun...&







    I think I explained myself quite succinctly in the post above. However, if you'd like a more detailed description of my personal views, okay. But they're my personal views, not my political views... keep that in mind.

    Well, I'm a little less politically correct than most of the members of this forum regarding that (& other) issue(s). I've traveled a bit & I've witnessed other cultures' ways of handling things.

    Of course, I believe that it is always appropriate to use whatever force is necessary to stop someone from hurting one's child. A parent is a different breed of cat from a non-parent & when a child is being hurt (raped, beaten, etc.) I think that a parent's natural instincts kick in & all hell breaks loose on the perpetrator. That's just the way it is. The idea that he/she should be able to hold him/herself back, is simply not reasonable. Rationale about anything else but their child goes completely out the window. It's expected. It's natural. I cannot blame a parent for defending his/her child (in almost all cases). And it does not matter how old the child is... to a parent, that person will ALWAYS be his/her child.
    I was in West Africa during an interesting time. There was a pervert who'd cornered a couple of young kids (boys & girls). The citizens of the community just stoned him & beat him until he was dead.
    Personally, I had no problem with that whatsoever.

    When it comes to self-defense, I think that there are times when it's perfectly legitimate to protect yourself if you think the person is going to kill you. I do not think it's okay to kill someone in order to stop them from beating you up. I think you have to believe your very life is in danger.

    I also believe in the defense of one's spouse & other family, sometimes friends as well. This all depends, of course, on circumstances & situations.
    I believe in the defense of one's home against violent intruders (including governments in some cases ).

    Now, regarding the state, when a person engages in serial raping, or performs a rape that is torturous or extreme, I think it's perfectly okay to remove that person from this planet... & I don't want to run into him one day on Mars.
    The same goes for child molesters. I would have no problem with the bulk of those perverted Catholic priests going into one of those showers the Germans set up 70 years ago... no problem at all.

    Frankly, in my opinion, there are creatures that are so deeply sick, so twisted in their heads that they need not be put through the torture of life in a box nor the torture of living inside their screwed-up minds. There is no effective rehabilitation & punishing an extremely ill person does no good either. There is no humanity in life-long punishment because the person is sick & the sickness causes them to be bad & the badness causes life in their community to be unsafe. Keeping them in a cage or a hole is inhumane. It's cruel. When I see a sick or injured animal, I kill it so that it isn't suffering. I feel the same when it comes to extreme cases of mental illness that have caused perversion in a person's mind. There is no getting "right" for that person. I do not feel sadness or regret about them dying. In my opinion, death is a relief, they are being set free from their torturous insanity. Anyone's who's ever lived on a farm has seen that there are sometimes animals that are just simply born bad. Sometimes, we have to protect the rest of the animals from them. Generally, we do so with a bullet.
    Nature does some things we just don't understand sometimes & we can't fix. That's just the way it is.

    Look, humans are just animals. We're breeding like bunnies, after all. It isn't as if every single life is "precious." I just do not believe in that concept. Yes, there are lives that are more valuable than other lives, in my opinion. It has nothing whatsoever to do with race, money or social class. But, in my opinion, there are times when killing is warranted.

    Now, that being said, do I believe that everything I've seen over-seas is "right" or "correct" for use in American law? Naahhhhh. That's just silly. But, you asked about my personal views & I gave them to you. I think that American law is a completely different story. Law is difficult. That was the brilliance about the scene in West Africa. The community took care of the situation. There was no trial. There was no costly appeals process. There was no process that took months or years & no torturous prison sentence, no judges or attorneys to pay or pay off. The community simply took care of it, quickly & efficiently. The perpetrator was dead within an hour of the scene's beginning. He didn't suffer... long. What could the State do? Arrest the whole town? Punish everyone for taking care of their community? It was put in the paper & on the radio & that was the end of it. Maybe someone came from the government & shook his finger at them... but likely not.

    I thought that it was just brilliant... efficient, affective & humane. Everyone felt better when it was over... safe, secure & at peace. The perpetrator included.
    I do not think that the US should go back to those kinds of actions. Don't get me wrong... I'm not some loony-tune. But I sure did admire the way it was handled.

    Consider the idea that Americans are told they are free, but don't actually understand freedom at all. Freedom is responsibility. When a person is free, truly free, he/she is completely responsible for him/herself. He/She can do what he/she likes, but has to be responsible for the consequences. He/She cannot sue someone because he/she tripped over the rug in a shop or restaurant. We in the US are very sheltered, coddled, nursed, if you will, through life. That's okay. There is something to be said about "civilizing" our society.

    However, that being said, I do not believe that putting people in a cage for thirty or forty years is civil or humane or okay. I just don't. I don't want to pay for it. I don't want the person in the cage to ever have to sort out how to function in general society at the end of his/her sentence... I don't believe it can be done. It is not fair to anyone involved. It's torture... State sponsored/sanctioned torture that the taxpayer has to pay for. Even though the process for capital punishment is more expensive than non-capital punishment, I think that there are cases where capital punishment is a better option than life without parole ...for everyone involved in the situation. I am well aware of the cost differential between the two types of trial processes & would never argue that point. I don't know how to lower/decrease those expenses or the time it takes to get through the process (however, the time is sometimes a good thing because new evidence/technology is often found that releases an innocent person).

    Our process has faults. Innocent people are often convicted. It's a real tragedy when that happens.
    I don't know how to change that.
    I don't know what the answers are to correct our system or our society.

    However, yes, there are times when I believe killing is justified. In fact, I believe there are times when killing is not only warranted, but is down-right needed.
    But that's just me. I know there are others who disagree vehemently. But those people & I fundamentally disagree on humanity's value in general.
  • Brandon Indierail 2012/05/16 00:17:33
    Never mind a lot of prisons are going private, something Republicans should love. Your rights have now become economic profit, just something else to grow the GDP. LOL
  • Crimson 2012/04/29 07:55:13
    Spread the death penalty to other countries and states as well! This way criminals will think twice before committing a crime.
  • Grammar... Crimson 2012/04/29 12:58:53 (edited)
    Grammar Freak
    Doesn't seem to be much of a deterrent in the US.
  • Bubba d'Rosa 2012/04/28 02:11:05
    Bubba d'Rosa
    My cousin and her 10 yr old daughter were murdered in Texas 14 yrs ago. The rotten piece of $hit is still on death row. Her mother never recovered. The shock and stress killer her 4 yrs later. Let me pull the switch. Come on Texas, don't be shy, let the bastard fry.
  • golem48 2012/04/27 06:35:00
    Liberals ought to regard it as a post natal abortion!
  • BobStrauss 2012/04/27 03:35:31
    For one killing, possibly not, but for any serialism, make them bleed, and suffer long and hard, because you can never reform one who is pathologically debased or should you wasted the money to try. The state of Connecticut should be damned for saving the lush of those two monsters who ravaged that doctor poor wife and daughters.
  • Kibelle 2012/04/27 02:48:35
    Many murderers and criminals do deserve the capital punishment because they wouldn't change themselves otherwise. But I'm more concerned about innocent people being wrongly judged and put under the needle.
  • Margaret Jacobson 2012/04/26 19:46:22
    Margaret Jacobson
    let the crime dictate the punishment..........rapists, murderers, pedofiles.........death penalty......some murderers I have been told HAVE BEEN rehabilitated .......far and few I am told !!
  • Grammar... Margare... 2012/05/01 08:54:10
    Grammar Freak
    "Murder" is a relative term. I mean, not everyone who kills someone else is a "murderer."
    I would say that rehabilitation is, indeed, possible for some actual murderers as well as for most killers. But I don't think it's true for all murders.
    I agree with you... sometimes capital punishment is simply necessary.
  • Dudley SHarp 2012/04/26 14:25:00
    Dudley SHarp
    Support is about 80%, nationwide (1).

    The death penalty has a foundation in justice and it spares more innocent lives.

    Anti death penalty arguments are either false or the pro death penalty arguments are stronger.

    The majority populations of all countries may support the death penalty for some crimes (1).

    Why? Justice.


    Of all endeavors that put innocents at risk, is there one with a better record of sparing innocent lives than the US death penalty? Unlikely.

    1) The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives

    2) Innocents More At Risk Without Death Penalty


    1) US Death Penalty Support at 80%; World Support Remains High
  • Josh Stephens 2012/04/26 04:22:51
    Josh Stephens
    I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE The death penalty!
  • Razoreye001 2012/04/26 04:13:20
    I think we need to expand the death penalty to rape as well as murder, all of you liberals that are against the death penalty would you tell the family of someone who was murdered that the person who killed their son, daughter, mother, father etc. deserves to live?
  • holieberie Razorey... 2012/04/26 13:26:44
    I completely agree. People don't think about it that way because they never have to be put in that position. Freedom and fair rights for all. BS! They gave up their freedom and right to choose when they took the life of another.
  • Seeker of Truth - War Wizard 2012/04/25 20:40:10
    Seeker of Truth - War Wizard
    Why does the main page say "Death Penalty Unnecessary, while the article itself says the results show that people feel it is necessary?
  • KelciLynDiNatale 2012/04/25 20:35:13
    I believe the death penalty's necessary depending on the crimes you've committed.
  • Howling Hank 2012/04/25 20:30:51
    Howling Hank
    I don't want to continue paying for a criminal's 3 square meals/free medical and dental - while we have homeless who've committed no crimes and have way less, that is damn unfair. So death to the criminals, especially of the life sentence/dangerous/variety...
  • rustyshackelford 2012/04/25 20:22:32
  • Will 2012/04/25 20:19:28
    Some would learn from life in prison, where as others can only learn through death
  • Prime Time Lime 2012/04/25 20:15:41
    Prime Time Lime
    It is way outdated,and something one of think of with the Roman times when barbarism was the norm. We may have advanced as a species scientifically ,but have not matured socially with the acceptance of such a means of punishment.
  • budgerigar42 2012/04/25 20:14:52
    Jail time lets the criminals think about what they have done. The death penalty lets them off too easily.

    Also, too many innocent people have been killed by this. Jail time would give criminal justice officials time to reconsider the evidence, so that less innocent people will be executed.
  • cupcakes 2012/04/25 20:11:45 (edited)
    lol death penalty
  • Cmo 2012/04/25 20:10:52
    I love the liberal view, keep criminals alive but kill babies.
  • Lanikai 2012/04/25 20:08:01
    Use it fast, use it often, use it for all pedophiles, rapists, and murderers. Give them 3 state appeals and 3 federal appeals and load the gun.

    Too many of these low lifes extend their own with repeated appeals and such to get OUT of dying, while they had no remorse for those they killed.

    So, flip that switch, plunge that needle. aim that rifle-get it done.
  • 2468 2012/04/25 20:02:50
    Death is too easy for some crimes.
    Also, it costs a fortune to put on a murder trial that is seeking the death penalty.
    I believe it is cheaper and better to lock them up for life.
    Also, I believe life in prison is a worse penalty than the escape of death.
  • Jacksane 2012/04/25 19:46:34
    It is not our place to decide who lives and who dies. By killing a killer, we only reduce ourselves to their level.
  • Cmo Jacksane 2012/04/25 20:17:39
    By choosing to commit heinous crimes against society they have forfeit their right to life. Executing a murderer is not murder, its removing a cancer from a functioning society. Its not our choice that puts them to death, instead its the choices they have made that brought them to this destination.
  • Jacksane Cmo 2012/04/25 20:34:03
    I disagree. Issuing the death penalty is a choice by rational agents. You could choose to keep them in prison for life. Execution causes the suffering of a sentient being. This is immoral. A single judge must pass down the death sentence, making them essentially a murderer. You may not recognize the immorality of capital punishment, but I take it you recognize the value of life. Whereas a human fetus has about as much capacity for suffering as a factory farmed cow, a full-grown murderer has as much ability to suffer as you do. Killing an adult murderer is logically worse than killing a human fetus.
  • Cmo Jacksane 2012/04/26 00:21:35
    Really, an innocent baby or a convicted murderer? Death sentence isn't issuing suffering its ending it. What is this about suffering, I don't understand you logic. Your saying that because an adult murderer has a greater understanding of suffering he has more right to life than an innocent child that has an unknown capacity to bring good into this world. The murderer has already proven to inflict suffering on others. You would keep someone who is unfit to live in a free world under lock and key, robbing him of his freedom, any sense of his life, and costing society an even further burden, all in the name of suffering? Your saying he should be kept alive to continue suffering? That explanation seem even less moral than death. The judge isn't killing the man, the man killed himself when he chose to take the life of another.
  • Prime T... Jacksane 2012/04/25 20:22:43 (edited)
    Prime Time Lime
    Sensible answer,that is logical thinking.
    Also groups that appose the death penalty should gain more political clout,and more media attention. So this way governors will then lean towards the logic and fair choice,abolishing the practice. If governors get less votes because they agree with capitol punishment they will soon be voted out of office.

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