Your Colorado neighbors are going through what must be among the most horrendous trials imaginable. James Holmes is on trial for murdering 12 people with scores more injured. The news is full of first person accounts and graphic photos of the horrific crime scene. Of course the defense is trying to prove Holmes was insane to avoid the death penalty.
If you take a look at the worst shootings in US history, Holmes and his Colorado rampage doesn't even crack the top ten. Doing research into the deterrence aspect of capital punishment, I find there is no clear evidence one way or the other proving it keeps a criminal from committing a capital crime. What seems pretty clear is that the fear of punishment deters crime, but the thought of capital punishment doesn't seem to deter perpetrators.
If you look strictly at costs, every source I can find indicates that it is cheaper to incarcerate a criminal for the rest of their natural life than execution. The cost of all those automatic and filed appeals ad nauseum certainly helps the lawyers, but it sure adds to the public's cost.
Part of the reason for all the mandatory appeals is the chance of executing the wrong person of course. According to one source, there have been 140 death row inmates exonerated over the years. It seems the court and legal systems seem to know there will be mistakes now and then.
But what about the victims and their families? Capital punishment seems to offer those most affected some sort of closure I've read, but far too often that closure may take decades to be realized in part thanks to laws that require automatic appeals. Is waiting years for closure really closure? I can't put myself in their shoes.
Now the Nebraska legislature has made a rather historic veto override of a bill abolishing capital punishment. 3 of 4 cons are in favor of executing the worst of the worst according to a survey. I'm not in the majority and am against the death penalty. I think I would be completely satisfied with a life sentence for heinous criminals if I knew that for all intents and purposes, the criminal was gone for good. I think it's too expensive, and not in line with what I believe Jesus has in mind.
Wouldn't it be nice for us Christians if the Bible had some clear cut reference about how we should feel about the death penalty? I recall that Jesus stepped in and stopped an execution stating... "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her", and He went on to say... "I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more."
Society obviously can't dismiss the perpetrators of horrible crimes, but I think keeping them away from the rest of us is a better choice than executing them for so many reasons.
Just my $.02.