In an editorial in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jimmy Carter explains the "overwhelming ethical, financial, and religious reasons to abolish the death penalty." The former President and founder of The Carter Center notes that the tide of public opinion has been steadily turning against capital punishment, with a solid majority of Americans now preferring an alternative punishment to the death penalty.
Since the death penalty was reinstated in the 1970s, studies show there is no deterrent effect, and 138 exonerations of people sentenced to death demonstrate a dramatic error rate in capital sentencing.
"The cost for prosecuting executed criminals is astronomical," Mr. Carter writes. "Since 1973, California has spent roughly $4 billion in capital cases leading to only 13 executions, amounting to about $307 million each."
Finally, moral arguments for the death penalty are undermined by the fact that our use of the death penalty demonstrates bias against the poor, people of color, and those with diminished mental capacity.
A growing number of states have abolished the death penalty in recent years, citing the facts that Mr. Carter highlights. Last month, Connecticut became the 17th state — the 5th in five years — to abolish capital punishment.