top of page

Capital Punishment

These are the results of giving the state the power to determine who deserves death.

Image by Harry Shelton


Innocent people sentenced to death
  • Since 1973, nearly 200 former death row inmates have been found innocent and exonerated in the United States. [source] 

  • It is not clear how many innocent people have been executed, but some studies estimate the innocence rate may be as high as 4%. [source] 

  • From 2000-2011, there was an average of 5 death row exonerations per year. [source]

unfair application among the guilty

  • Men are drastically more likely to receive death sentences. As of fall 2018, women make up just 2% of the total death row population. [source]

  • Additionally, minorities are disproportionately sentenced to death; black Americans make up just 13% of the United States population [source] and 42% of death row prisoners. [source]

    • Note: one interpretation of this statistic could lead to the incorrect conclusion that black Americans are more likely to commit violent crimes. However, reports which analyze crime statistics across both race and economic status find that the latter is the factor which most accurately predicts whether a person will commit crime. In other words: low-income, black Americans have roughly the same likelihood of committing crime as low-income, white Americans. [source] Black Americans tend to receive harsher sentences for the same crimes because of racism in the judicial process (particularly during jury selection). [source]

  • Race of the victim also seems to play a large role in sentencing. A study in California found that those convicted of killing white people were more than three times as likely to be sentenced to death as those convicted of killing black people, and more than four times more likely as those convicted of killing Latino people. [source]

no effect on crime rates

  • The death penalty does not work as a deterrent for crime. States which have abolished the death penalty experienced no change in their murder rates. [source]

  • A poll of 500 police chiefs found that they don't view the death penalty as an effective deterrent. [source]

"I wish I could tell you that the state of Alabama made an honest mistake. I wish I could tell you that it had nothing to do with the color of my skin...but when I was convicted, the prosecutor said: 'We don't have the right n***** today, but at least we got a n***** off the street.'"

–Anthony Ray Hinton, who was wrongfully held on Alabama's death row for nearly three decades. 

“Incarceration Reform” Spring Lecture, hosted by the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, in Pittsburgh, PA. March 15, 2019.



Rehumanize International adheres to the belief that the right to life is inalienable. All human beings deserve the right to life by virtue of their humanity, which is intrinsic and unchanging. No extrinsic quality, such as guilt, can be used to revoke that right.

After all, guilt and moral culpability are on a spectrum. On one end, you have the child in the womb or a newborn infant — someone perfectly innocent of any wrongdoing. On the other end, you have serial killers and imperialists who have caused the deaths of millions. The majority of humanity falls somewhere in the middle. 

In order to justify capital punishment, a line would have to be drawn somewhere along this spectrum to decide which human beings are guilty enough to deserve death. 


Can we trust whoever is currently in power to draw that line? Should the government get to choose who lives and who dies?


The widespread availability of nonviolent ways to keep society safe from violent criminals renders capital punishment unnecessary. At best, its continued use amounts to useless vengeance; at worst, as we can see from the statistics above, it opens the door for deadly discrimination.


A system of justice ought to be based on the inherent dignity of the human person — the dignity of both the offender and the offended. We should seek a model that makes amends and seeks to generate positive outcomes rather than preferring to ensure a balance of harm.


The death penalty is the most final and fatal form of retributive justice — that is, justice which aims for retribution. It does not seek to repair relationships between the offender and the offended; in fact, the needs of the offended party really don't come into the picture. The focus is entirely on broken rules and punishment. If our goals are to reduce recidivism and achieve true justice, we must work to build a system that focuses on restoring relationships between the offender, the offended, and the community as a whole. 




bottom of page