On the Death Penalty and Money

There’s a measure on the ballot in California (where they’re called propositions) tomorrow to eliminate the death penalty. The idea behind this measure, Proposition 34, is that the death penalty is too expensive and therefore should be abolished. The idea is so morally vapid that it’s hard to believe people would take it seriously. Justice should never be a matter of money. Do supporters of Prop. 34 really mean to suggest that, yes, heinous murderers should be executed, but because it’s costly we should allow every murderer to live? 

Isn’t the obvious and better answer to do something about the endless and usually pointless appeals process that makes capital punishment expensive? 

The reason the death penalty is so expensive is that groups that oppose capital punishment (like the ACLU), with their nearly bottomless resources, manipulate the legal system to keep murderers alive. Now these very same groups come back and say to the voter, “we’ve got a big problem, the death penalty is too expensive. Think of all the money we can save if we abolish it.” 

The opponents of capital punishment make capital punishment more and more expensive, and then demand the abolition of capital punishment because it’s more and more expensive. If it weren’t angering, it would be funny. 

Regarding the rightness of capital punishment, I have created a new course at Prager University making the moral case for capital punishment. I didn’t make it as a response to Proposition 34. In fact, I don’t address the cost issue. But I would submit that it’s hard to watch this five minute lecture and not come away with a clearer grasp as to why capital punishment for murder is so necessary and so moral. 

You can watch it here