Adherents of the death penalty claim that it deters criminals from committing homicide and that it is more cost-effective as a punishment than giving criminals life sentences. They also believe that killing a murderer is fair retribution for the crime of murder, that the Bible justifies capital punishment and that the death penalty gives closure to the families of victims.
Some criminals may plead guilty after the fact when confronted with the choice of life in prison or the death penalty, but research shows that the threat of long imprisonment is as effective as capital punishment in deterring criminals from committing homicide. According to statistics, the states that allow the death penalty have the highest murder rates. Studies also show that the death penalty as punishment is far more expensive than life prison sentences due to the long and costly appeals process that most capital punishment cases go through.
Retribution theories are partly based on Biblical injunctions that punishments must fit crimes. Opponents claim that this is an emotional rather than a judicial response. Many religious leaders argue against the death penalty, claiming that the government could better invest the finances in programs of crime deterrence such as educational improvement, mental health services and more law enforcement. Most people interpret closure as vengeance, but families of victims are often better served with programs that offer counseling and other support services.