There have been 1,226 executions spread over the 36 death penalty states between 1976 to 2010; the highest among developed nations.
Essentially, the proponents of capital punishment argue that it reduces the risks of future deaths by taking the perpetrator out from society, as well as creating a deterrent effect for would-be murderers. They also hold to the position that without the threat of an ‘eye for an eye’, the fabric of society itself will fall apart. While there is an element of risk of punishing an innocent, the benefits outweigh the very rare incidents of wrong prosecution.
Opponents, meanwhile, contend that there is no empiric data supporting the argument that capital punishment reduces or prevents future deaths. In addition, they argue that rehabilitation is a more humane method of punishment, a reflection on our higher sense of morals. But most of all, there is a tendency to prosecute and convict under-privileged minorities, indicated from the disproportionate ratio in comparison to our national demographics. Opponents also like to point out the fact that 98% of the district attorneys in death penalty states are white (Jeffrey Pokorak, Cornell Law Review, 1998).
Obama feels utmost caution should be taken on the subject of capital punishment, and it should be
reserved only for ‘heinous crimes’.
“I believe that the death penalty is appropriate in
certain circumstances. There are extraordinarily heinous crimes, terrorism, the harm of children, in
which it may be appropriate. Obviously we’ve had some problems in this state, in the application
of the death penalty and that’s why a moratorium was put in place and that’s why I was so proud
to be one of the leaders in making sure that we overhauled it, death penalty system that was broken.
For example, passing the first in the nation videotaping of interrogations and confessions in
capital cases. We have to have this ultimate sanction for certain circumstances in which the entire
community says this is beyond the pale”
October 21, 2004, Illinois State Debate
"While the evidence tells me that the death penalty does little to deter crime, I believe there
are some crimes—mass murder, the rape and murder of a child—so heinous, so beyond the pale, that
the community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage by meting out the ultimate