Don’t resurrect death penalty

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: February 7 2013 | 10:24 am - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 11:07 am in

By The Gazette Editorial Board

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Most of us can only attempt to imagine the anguish of having a child abducted and murdered. Even when it doesn’t involve our family or a friend, we want to help make sure it doesn’t happen again.

We also can understand why the parents of Elizabeth Collins, one of two young Evansdale cousins whose bodies were found 145 days after they disappeared last July, and other parents of missing and murdered children are supporting reinstatement of capital punishment in Iowa. Several Republican state legislators have indicated they’ll push legislation that would bring back the death penalty in certain circumstances.

So far this session, there isn’t a groundswell of support in the Legislature. And we hope such legislation doesn’t gain traction.

A Pew Research poll in 2012 showed that 62 percent of Americans support the death penalty.

However, that’s down from 78 percent in the mid 1990s. And the U.S. trend is toward abolishing the death penalty — 17 states have done that, 33 still have some version, although it is rarely used in many of those.

More important, there are good reasons to oppose this kind of punishment.

The major argument for capital punishment is deterrence. But when one searches for conclusive evidence that the death penalty deters heinous crime, the results are at best inconclusive or contradictory.

Better technology has helped keep more innocent suspects off death row. But the system is not foolproof and bad lawyers still handle defendants’ cases too often. Criteria vary widely.

A life sentence without parole, vs. the death penalty, also costs taxpayers much less. And it allows for mistakes to be corrected and new evidence to be presented.

So ... why would Iowa want to become the first state since 1995 to bring back the death penalty?

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