There are many strong and valid reasons to oppose capital punishment in the United States — cruelty, culture of violence, extraordinary costs, questions of innocence, and racial bias.
On the other side, supporters of the death penalty will cite their desire for justice, fair punishment, and closure for the victim’s family. They may also believe the death penalty is a deterrent to others who would commit a capital offense.
However, most of the same people who support capital punishment also strongly oppose government control. They often even view the government as incompetent — and worse — corrupt.
They campaign, preach, and vote to limit the power and reach of the U.S. government. They demand the abolition of entire cabinet-level departments. They warn that the government is incapable of administering even small aspects of our healthcare system or veterans affairs.
But there’s an inconsistency in this thinking. They want to give the ultimate command over life and death to the same government that — they claim — has too much power and too little competence.
Supporters of the death penalty don’t believe that they or any member of their family will ever stand in front of a judge nervously awaiting to hear if their sentence will be death.
Statistically, they aren’t wrong. There’s little reason to expect the average law-abiding citizen will either commit a capital offense or be wrongly accused of a capital offense.
But what if an unexpected confluence of events leads to a conviction — even falsely — in a capital case in one of 32 states still using capital punishment? There have been, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, 156 exonerations of death row prisoners in the U.S. since 1973.
So, to be consistent with views to limit a corruptible, incompetent, or overreaching government, the best place to start is to remove the power for it to kill you.