I think the line between people who are for or against capital punishment can be drawn between those who believe humans can transform themselves from bad to good, and those who believe the opposite. I believe that no human has the right to steal another human’s right to redemption. People make choices. Just as a convict once made wrong choices, it is entirely possible that one day, he/she will realize their mistakes and choose to be a better person. There is always a chance for an internal repentance – just between them and their conscience (and if they believe, between them and God). By executing a human, however heinous their crime, we take away this chance. And that according to me, is an unconscionable act.
Maybe this shift in conscience will never occur, and the convict remains violent – and as others have suggested, in solitary confinement – till the end of their days. But I am sure there are many whose lives have taken a turn while serving a life sentence, and they have gone on to be better humans while behind bars. (Life in prison doesn’t necessarily have to be a “waste to nothing”. Haven’t prisoners earned degrees and done great works of art while behind bars?) It’s too bad that this internal transformation is not quantifiable, and cannot be used to decide which “life without parole” convict should and should not be released from prison.
One of your readers responded: “What’s more humane about imprisoning a human being for their lifetime instead of killing them? This has always baffled me.” The difference, of course, is the scenario where evidence comes to light after conviction that casts doubt on that conviction. If the suspect is still in prison, there is a remedy – you can consider the new evidence and, if it shows that the suspect was wrongly convicted, that person can be released from prison. If the suspect has been executed, there is no remedy. That’s the fundamental problem with the death penalty.