EWTN Catholic Q&A
Re Death Penalty
Question from Paul on 03-26-2013:

Dear Judy,

I'll preface my question by stating that personally I am opposed to the death penalty (on two grounds: one, it violates the dignity of the human person; and two, the person is not an unjust aggressor, while being incarcerated in a prison cell). However, that being said no one yet has come up with a legitimate argument against the death penalty for a capital offender who continues to kill in prison. But my main question is:

How does one measure the deterrent effect of the death penalty? For example, a person who is a serial killer and is executed may kill again and again, if not executed?

How can anyone say for sure that it is not a deterrent and saves lives?

Thank you,


Answer by Judie Brown on 03-27-2013:

Dear Paul

The question that should be asked is not whether or not the death penalty should ever be used, but rather who some compare the wilfull killing of an innocent baby prior to birth with the sentence passed on an individual who has committed a crime and did receive a trial by jury. The two individuals are both persons with innate dignity,but why is it that the law protects one type of killer and find it necessary to charge and try the other?

That is where the inconsistency resides.

Judie Brown