Abolitionists claim that capital punishment does not deter murderers from killing or killing again. They base most of their argument against deterrence on statistics. States that use it extensively show a higher murder rate than those that have abolished the death penalty. Also, states that have abolished the death penalty and then reinstituted it show no significant change in the murder rate. They say adjacent states with the death penalty and those without show no long term differences in the number of murders that occur in that state. And finally, there has been no record of change in the rate of homicides in a given city or state following a local execution. Any possibly of deterring a would-be murderer from killing has little effect.
Most retentionists (people for capital punishment) argue that none of this statistical evidence proves that capital punishment does not deter potential criminals. There is absolutely no way prove, with any certainty, how many would-be murderers were in fact deterred from killing They point out that the murder rate in any given state depends on many things besides whether or not that state has capital punishment. They cite such factors as the proportion of urban residents in the state, the level of economic prosperity, and the social and racial makeup of the population. But a small minority is ready to believe in these statistics and to abandon the deterrence argument. But they defend the death penalty base on other arguments, relying primarily on the need to protect society from killers who are considered high risks for killing again.
Incapacitation is another controversial aspect of the death penalty. Abolitionists say condemning a person to death removes any possibility of rehabilitation. They are confident in the life-sentence presenting the possibility of rehabilitating the convict. But rehabilitation is a myth. The state does not know how rehabilitate people because there are plenty of convict murderers who kill again. The life-sentence is also a myth because overcrowding in the prisons. Early parole has released convicted murderers and they still continue murder. Some escape and murder again, while others have murdered someone in prison. There are countless stories in prisons where a violent inmate kills another for his piece of chicken. Incapacitation is not solely meant as deterrence but is meant to maximize public safety by remove any possibility of a convict murderer to murder again.
The issue of execution of an innocent person is troubling to both abolitionists and retentionists alike. Some people are frightened of this possibility enough to be convinced that capital punishment should be abolished.This is not true at all. The execution of innocent people is very rare because there are many safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty. There is legal assistance provided and an automatic appeal for persons convicted of capital crimes. Persons under the age of eighteen, pregnant women, new mothers or persons who have become insane can not be sentenced to death. Retentionists argue almost all-human activities, ranging trucking to construction, costs the lives of some innocent bystanders. These activities can not be simply abandoned, because the advantages outweigh the losses. Capital punishment saves lives as well as takes them. We must accept the few risks of wrongful deaths for the sake of defending public safety.
Abolitionists say the cost of execution has become increasingly expensive and that life sentence is more economical. A study of the Texas criminal system estimated the cost of appealing capital murder at $2,316,655. This high cost includes $265,640 for the trial; $294,240 for the state appeals; $113,608 for federal appeals (over six years); and $135,875 for death row housing. In contrast, the cost of housing a prisoner in a Texas maximum-security prison single cell for 40 years is estimated at $750,000. This is a huge amount of taxpayer money but the public looks at it as an investment in safety since these murders will never kill again. Retentionists argue that these high costs are due to “the lengthy time and the high expense result from innumerable appeals, many over ‘technicalities’ which have little or nothing to do with the question of guilt or innocence, and do little more than jam up the nation’s court system. If