Death penalty & Alabama (the state)

The financial crisis is leading some states to reconsider the death penalty, according to Amnesty International as quoted by AFP. (You can read the entire AFP story on the death penalty embedded below, and you’ll see Alabama and other Southern states led the way in executions.) According to the AFP story, “While US opinion polls for years have shown a two-thirds support for lethal injections, this year the financial crisis has stressed the 10-to-one cost of execution compared to life imprisonment and made 10 states also consider its abolishment. Anti-death penalty activists are hoping these states can tip the balance to more than half of the 50 states abolishing capital punishment in order to legally trigger its review on a national level.”

Anyone who would abolish capital punishment on financial grounds totally misunderstands the point of punishment. We don’t punish people for utilitarian reasons; we punish people because they deserve to be punished. Punishment is rendered not because people are safer when criminals are in jail (though they are). Punishment is executed because justice demands it.

Let us hope Alabama never becomes so crass as to decide justice based on the price to execute it.