I'm strangely un-passionate about the death penalty. I think it's wrong to kill. If I could wave a magic wand and do away with it, I would. And yet I don't really care when criminals are executed. I certainly don't shed a tear them.
Recent poll data show that 83% of Americans support the death penalty (other polls have shown this figure to be a bit lower, around 70%). But what I don't get is that 81% of these same Americans also believe that innocent people have been executed (and just 39% believe it acts as a deterrent). That means at least 44% of Americans believe we've killed innocent people and still support the death penalty. How can you support the death penalty if you think we've killed innocent people?
I wish there were, when giving the death penalty, a standard of judicial proof higher than "beyond a reasonable doubt." Something like "we know 100% damn well for certain without any doubt that the person is guilty." Then we could debate the death penalty. Then I might even support it. Until then, I think Justice Blackmun was right when he said, "I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death."
Just FYI, in Russia, the not quite comparable figure in support of the death penalty is 44%. Many people love to think the rest of the world, compared to America, is horribly barbaric and blood-thirsty. These same people usually don't have a passport.