Argument: Life in prison deters crime/murder as well as the death penalty
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The best argument here is that it does not better protect society than life imprisonment without parole. Life without parole should have a near 100% effectiveness in protecting society from a murderer killing again. Many proponents of the death penalty claim that murders are often appeal, are released, or escape and kill, thus attempting to justify the death penalty as the only 100% effective means to protecting society from that murderer killing again. Yet, a life without parole sentence that takes all appropriate precautions, should be able to effectively prevent a murderer from killing again. The only risk is that the murderer escapes (there is no room for parole or appeal) and this risk can be effectively eliminated by placing a prisoner in a maximum security prison if necessary. Since life without parole is sufficient in protecting society (self-defense), the death penalty is an unnecessary measure for these purposes and unjust.
Even if a tiny fraction of murderers sentenced to life without parole were able to escape and murder again, this may not be a sufficient grounds for justifying the death penalty. The failure in these instances would be in the prisons that allowed a murder to escape. These problems can always be addressed. Even if they are never made perfect, proponents of the death penalty would have to demonstrate
Supporting evidence and quotes
- Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, "Justice, Mercy, and Capital Punishment", 2005 - "The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it in these words: If 'non-lethal means [such as life without parole] are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor [i.e., the convicted murderer], authority [should] limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person'. (2267). John Paul II, writing in The Gospel of Life, stressed that 'the nature and extent of the punishment [for capital crimes] must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not to go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity; in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements to the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent' (no. 56). In modern industrialized states, killing convicted murderers adds nothing to anyone’s safety. It is an excess. It cannot be justified except in the most extraordinary conditions."