The biggest and most understandable argument for legalizing the death penalty is the concept of lex italionis, the retaliation law. This states that the “punishment inflicted should correspond in degree and kind of the offense of the wrong doer, as an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth; retributive justice." in short, the punishment must fit the crime. Though this argument makes sense on a reasonable level I do not agree. We do not punish an arsonist with the burning down of their home, we do not punish a rapist with rape, therefore punishing a murderer with death is immoral. An immoral act cannot be erased by another immoral act, thus the killing of a murderer is not going to change the unfortunate fact that the victim will never return. The fact is that though originally the death penalty was put in place to send the ultimate message of discouragement to other murders and criminals, there is no statistic to back up this claim. Therefore sentencing someone with the death penalty does not take an effect on the criminal population and isn't serving its purpose on society. If this is true, then what are our grounds for the death penalty? Is it justice or is it just borderline revenge?
Ultimately the moral question surrounding the death penalty seems to not only address whether or not the convicted person has the right to live, but whether or not states and federal governments have the right to kill them. 32 of our 50 states plus the military believe that the governments do have this right (Death Penalty Information Center). I disagree. The right to life is a concept that seems to have a lot of grey area, and even more so when you are dealing with someone who is responsible for destroying that of another. Christopher Morris presents the idea of a social contract that in summary states we give up certain rights in order to gain others. That if we take the life of an innocent person we are, in turn, giving up our own right to life. He also supports the death penalty by saying that we are a race of imperfect beings, therefore we must have a system that allows for violations of its norms to keep the balance. Though idealistic and in some eyes possibly naive, I believe to be moral we must be above it. Fixing a broken society with an equally broken system only feeds into this vicious circle, in which nobody wins. The criminal sentenced to death has no chance of useful rehabilitation, the family and friends of the one lost still do not have their loved on back, thus society is benefiting in no real way. It costs states huge amounts of money to house death row inmates; keeping them