Why Oppose the Death Penalty
- The death penalty is the ultimate, irreversible denial of civil liberties and humanity.
- The death penalty is applied arbitrarily. In Oregon and across the United States, prosecutors from some counties are more likely to pursue the death penalty than others are. Less than 1% of the homicides committed every year in the United States result in the death penalty.
- The death penalty is applied disproportionately against the poor and minorities. While only 50% of murder victims generally are white, over 75% of the murder victims in cases resulting in execution were white. As of January, 2011 54% of death row inmates were Black or Hispanic.
- The death penalty creates an unacceptable risk of executing innocent human beings. Since 1973, 140 individuals from 26 states have been released from death row and states have likely executed innocent people.
- The death penalty diverts valuable resources resulting in a less effective and efficient criminal justice system. A fiscal impact summary from the Oregon Department of Administrative Services stated in 2000 that eliminating the death penalty would save the state $2.3 million annually.
- The death penalty does not deter crime. States without the death penalty have a lower murder rate than neighboring states with the death penalty. Empirical studies fail to demonstrate that the death penalty is a factor that deters people from committing crime.
- The death penalty has an effective alternative for keeping citizens safe: life without parole. There are currently over 121 people in Oregon who have received this sentence, none have been released.
- More than 140 nations worldwide have abandoned capital punishment in law or practice. The vast majority of countries in Europe, North America, and South America have abolished the death penalty.
- The families of murder victims suffer loss and heartache that should never be minimized under any circumstances. However, executions do not make them whole, nor do they end their pain and agony.
- When the state kills, we are all participants. No citizen should kill another as part of their job description.
Sources: Death Penalty Information Center (www.deathpenaltyinfo.org), FBI Uniform Crime Reports (www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/ucr) , Death Penalty Focus (www.deathpenalty.org), the American Civil Liberties Union (www.aclu.org) , the National Association on Mental Illness (www.nami.org) , and Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (www.oadp.org).