Being from California, I’m mostly against it from a public policy standpoint.
The state hasn’t executed anyone since 2006, despite the fact that California alone has over 700 prisoners awaiting execution. In 2017, LA Times did a feature showing everyone on death row and the crimes they’ve committed. It’s oddly fascinating, actually. Link here.
It’s difficult to obtain drugs and getting trained medical personnel to participate in executions. The trial and appeals process is also incredibly lengthy. Because of this, death row inmates are more likely to die in prison than by execution. In 2016, we voted for a bill to expedite the lengthy process. But the state has yet to see an execution.
But, outside the context of being a Californian, and diverting from public policy, I’m still against it.
Yes, DNA evidence certainly helps prosecutors win cases. But too often, forensic science’s reliability is dangerously overstated, and they can still get cases wrong:
Among the hundreds of people who have been exonerated by DNA testing since 1989, 45% of them involved misapplied forensic science. (Source).
The field of hair analysis has come under scrutiny, prompting the FBI to announce an attempt to reexamine hair evidence of over 2,500 cases. By the time they completed a review of 342 defendant’s cases, they found that FBI examiners gave flawed testimonies in 95% of the 268 trials in which hair analysis was used against the defendant. Thirty-two of which, were death penalty cases. Nine of them had already been executed.
Fingerprint and DNA is definitely more reliable than other aspects of forensic science, but they’re still flawed. Two people can have fingerprint so close that experts can’t even tell them apart.
DNA evidence is also fragile, and can easily be mixed up at crime scenes and at the labs.
Forensic science labs have a systemic issue of doing the latter; these costly mistakes lead to wrongful prosuctions and convictions, some of which, have the potential to be death penalty cases.
This all isn’t to say though, that we should throw everything out the window. I just believe with all the things considered; the flawed criminal justice system in the U.S., the cost, and faulty evidence used to convict people, the death penalty isn’t worth it.
But from an emotional standpoint, I think it might be better just to keep people guilty of their crimes in the general population section of prisons. I’d rather them suffer.