Death penalty opponents passionately argue that the death penalty is wrong for a number of reasons.
* The death penalty is morally wrong. Many death penalty opponents believe that by legalizing executions, society puts itself on the same low level as those it executes, and may even increase violence in society by making it more acceptable.
"If a community wants to stop killing . . .," says former U.S. Senator Harold Hughes, "it had best begin by [stopping] killing on its own part. Respect for life is best taught by the observance of life."
The ACLU (American Civil Liberty Union) oppose capital punishment on moral and practical, as well as on constitutional, grounds:
Capital punishment is cruel and unusual. It is a relic of the earliest days of penology, when slavery, branding, and other corporal punishments were commonplace. Like those other barbaric practices, executions have no place in a civilized society.
Opposition to the death penalty does not arise from misplaced sympathy for convicted murderers. On the contrary, murder demonstrates a lack of respect for human life. For this very reason, murder is abhorrent, and any policy of state-authorized killings is immoral.
Arguments fore and against the Death Penalty
The death penalty . . . Is it justice - or legalized murder? Does it prevent crime - or lessen respect for the law? Will it make our towns and cities more safe - or more dangerous?
Public opinion has long been sharply divided over the legal execution of criminals. To critics, capital punishment, or the death penalty, is a step backward to a more brutal time. To supporters, it is a step forward to safer streets and greater justice.
Supporters of the death penalty just don't buy arguments against it. To them the death penalty is neither immoral nor cruel nor unusual.
* The death penalty is morally right, not wrong. Death penalty supporters say that society has the moral right - and duty - to take the lives of those who kill others. Many point to the Bible, which calls for punishment in the form of life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand . . ."
* The death penalty is not unconstitutional. Death penalty supporters also strongly dispute the claim that the death penalty is unconstitutional. They point out that the framers of the Constitution specifically refused to prohibit capital punishment in the Constitution and even referred to the death penalty in writing the Fifth Amendment.