Robert Blecker, a prominent legal scholar has stated that:
My thousands of hours observing daily life inside maximum security prisons and on death rows in several states these past 25 years have shown me the perverse irony that flows from this: Inside prisons, often the worst criminals live the most comfortable lives with the best hustles, job opportunities and sources of contraband, while the relatively petty criminals live miserably, constantly preyed upon (Blecker, N.p.)
This demonstrates the notion that current sentencing practices are inherently unfair. Those who commit relatively minor crimes are receiving disproportionate sentences because of the relative comfort and ease of the sentences of those who commit more dangerous crimes. The death penalty, with its associated isolation of prisoners on death row, allows for a more proportional system of punishment, wherein criminals are punished for the crime that they committed, not treated as if all of their underlying offenses were the same.
Furthermore, the current system of incarceration makes assumptions about safety that are simply unwarranted. Dangerous and violent offenders who have murdered before are more likely to commit additional murders than members of the general population. They are even more likely to commit murder than other non-violent offenders. Those who advocate for life in prison without parole as a means of preventing convicted murderers from reoffending ignore the fact that people who are imprisoned interact with other people. Even prisoners who live in isolation have some physical interaction with prison workers and other prisoners; it is impossible to completely keep people entirely separate in a prison condition where caring for the prisoner's basic human needs involves some human interaction. As a result, those people remain at risk of aggression and violence from the prisoner. The fact that the pool of potential victims is reduced from society-at-large to fellow-prisoners and prison workers does not mean that a convicted murderer is no longer a threat to people; it just means that society can ignore that the person remains a threat.
The death penalty provides an effective means to permanently deal with violent offenders without offending the notions of cruel and unusual punishment that underlie the American criminal justice system. A humanely administered death sentence as punishment for a murder does not violate the Constitution. The death penalty is consistent with the foundational religious and moral principles that have supported the development of American criminal law. The death penalty recognizes that murder is different from other crimes, and, as such, deserves a more significant punishment. Although initially more expensive, the overall financial cost of the death penalty to society is lower than in life without parole cases. Capital punishment is reserved for those offenders considered the worst of the worst, and, even where available, is not broadly applied. The current system often rewards the worst offenders with the best conditions once incarcerated. Finally, incarcerating murderers does not ensure that they will reoffend; it just narrows the pool of potential victims. When all of the above reasons are examined, it becomes clear that the death penalty can and should continue to play a role in the American criminal justice system.
Blecker, Robert. "The Death Penalty as Delineated by the Old Testament (Cover Story)." USA
Today Magazine 133.2714 (2004), 56-61. Academic Search Complete. 1-9. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.
Blecker, Robert. "With Death Penalty, Let Punishment Truly Fit the Crime." 22 Aug. 2013.
CNN.com. N.p. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.
Budziszewski, J. "Capital Punishment: The Case for Justice." ProCon.org. N.P. Web. 30 Oct.
CNN Library. "Death Penalty Fast Facts." 19 Jul. 2013. CNN.com. 1-4. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.
Ellsworth, Phoebe and Samuel R. Gross. "Hardening of the Attitudes: Americans' Views of the Death Penalty." Journal of Social Issues 50.2 (1994): 19-52.
Fein, Bruce. "Individual Rights and Responsibility- The Death Penalty, but Sparingly."
ProCon.org. N.P. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.
Greenberg, David and Valerie West. "Siting the Death Penalty Internationally." Law and Social Inquiry 33.2 (2008): 295-343.
Hermes, J.J. "5 States Spend More on Prisons than on Colleges." Chronicle of Higher
Education 54.27 (2008): A17. Academic Search Complete. 1-2. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.
Keating, Frank. "Why I…