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Argument: Some risk of executing the innocent must be tolerated

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Supporting quotations

One US Senate report - All that can be expected of...[human authorities] is that they take every reasonable precaution against the danger of error... If errors are...made, this is the necessary price that must be paid within a society which is made up of human beings.[1]


Hugo Bedau, wrote in 1982 - The execution of the innocent believed guilty is a miscarriage of justice that must be opposed whenever detected. But such miscarriage of justice do not warrant abolition at the death penalty. Unless the moral drawbacks of an activity practice, which include the possible death of innocent lives that might be saved by it, the activity is warranted. Most human activities like medicine, manufacturing, automobile, and air traffic, sports, not to mention wars and revolutions, cause death of innocent bystanders. Nevertheless, advantages outweigh the disadvantages, human activities including the penal system with all its punishments are morally justified ( p. 323).[2]


Pro Death Penalty Webpage - the death penalty isn't the only institution that contain risks in exchange for social benifits. We, in fact, mindlessly use far more dangerous institutions that take the lives of innocents by the hundreds every day, like the three or four tons of lethal metal we call automobiles for example. After all, how can we accept the average 45,000 person a year death toll in this nation due to car wrecks for our personal conveniences when the slim risk of a wrongful execution is so unbearable?

Following the lines of that logic, we not only would have to sacrifice our vehicles, we would have to sacrifice the personal conveniences of using electricity and fire because of the lives they have taken. We would have to go back to living in caves because of our fear of taking risks for social benefits. Indeed, we accept and use far too many devices and institutions that kill far too many hundreds of innocents each and every day to justify focusing this much paranoia on the slimmest and unlikely of risks. In fact, as far as abolitionists are concerned, anything can kill any number of innocents with absolute impunity so long as they don't harm murderers.[3]

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