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Capital Punishment14

This page aims to discuss capital punishment as rationally as possible. I propose to present
information which may help people make up their minds about whether or not capital
punishment keeps them safe, makes economic sense, or provides a satisfactory “closure” for the
victims of homicide. How, if at all, this information affects your response, either emotional or
political, to capital punishment remains entirely up to you.
The questions of fact concerning capital punishment fall into three general areas: does
capital punishment , freeing social resources for better purposes than warehousing and feeding
murders, or does it actually cost more, consuming resources that could go into preventing crime?
Does capital punishment strike fear into offenders, saving innocent lives bywould-be killers?
And, finally, the courts make mistakes; what does capital punishment mean to an innocent
These questions fit together to define a complex problem. If experience showed capital
punishment saved lives by deterring offenders, the cost would not matter; a certainty that capital
punishment would save innocent lives might even make the risk of wrongful convictions
acceptable. If no risk at all existed of an error by the courts, the question of whether capital
punishment saves innocent lives by deterring murder might matter less. And we cannot limit the
cost of capital punishment simply to money, since society has limited resources, and can only
spend so much on criminal justice. A society that spends money on executions can’t spend that
money on police officers, courts, or jails; to say nothing of schools, vocational programs, or
other measures aimed at preventing crime.
If the broader public view of capital punishment does not reflect the reality, how does
capital punishment work in the United States? How do alternative systems work in countries
such as Canada? And ifof responses to murder, and the effe…

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