Not only is capital punishment a taxpayer's nightmare, it's an international embarrassment. Most developed nations have long rejected it as an outdated and barbaric practice, leaving the United States in the company of such human rights garden spots as China, Sudan and Syria.
So what do we get in exchange for all these problems? Some death-penalty supporters believe it deters crime, but that has never been conclusively demonstrated to be true, and there's reason to believe it isn't. Crime statistics show that the per-capita rate of homicide and other violent crime is highest in the South, the region that carries out the most executions. Then there is the feeling of closure that citizens, and especially the families of murder victims, derive when ultimate retribution is visited upon killers. Yet the legal delays that ensure that most death-row inmates will die of natural causes renders this a false hope in the majority of cases.