The three most recognized reasons for capital punishment are crime deterrent, eye-for-an-eye justice, and removal of undesirables from society. In fact, capital punishment has not proven to deter capital crimes in any state. Furthermore, in a sane and moral society the means of capital punishment (i.e. how prisoners are put to death) is anything but just. Ultimately society should aspire to the identification and remedy of that which causes the crime, not extermination of its citizens. It is patently absurd for a civilized society that has identified killing as wrong and inhumane, to endorse killing as a civil means of punishment.
People argue that the death penalty is a valid deterrent to capital crimes. This may appear to be a logical argument, but it is only logical to a rational society. That is, reasonable people would be deterred from committing a capital crime if they understood the consequence of the death penalty. However, people who commit violent crimes are most likely not acting rationally at the time they commit the crime. The possibility of being put to death if convicted usually does not make it into the perpetrators mind. This is especially true when the criminal is mentally unstable or acting under the influence of drugs, or rage, or panic.
To date, no proof has been produced to verify that the death penalty deters violent crime. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has recently published statistics that indicate that incidents of murder within some states that enforce capital punishment have not declined. Similarly, incidents of murder within other states that do not enforce capital punishment have not increased. Additionally, between 1976 and 1985 approximately twice as many law enforcement officers were killed in capital punishment states as in states that do not execute.
Dr. Thorsten Sellin, the late University of Pennsylvania scholar who changed the face of criminology, has been credited...