There are Alternatives to Death Sentences

Although support for capital punishment remains strong in the United States, that support drops considerably when alternatives are offered.  In a 2009 Gallup Poll, 65% of Americans reported supporting capital punishment, but when offered a choice between a death sentence and life in prison, less than half chose the death penalty.  In a 2001 poll by Peter Hart Research Associates, support for capital punishment fell to 38% when a life sentence plus restitution for the victim's families was offered.

Alternative Sentencing

When prosecutors seek life sentences instead of death, vast amounts of time and resources are saved, and more importantly lives are saved by avoiding the brutalizing and dehumanizing act of execution.  Based on comparing the murder rates in states with the death penalty versus states without the death penalty, alternative sentencing does not raise the murder rate: 

Comparing murder rates in death penalty and non-death penalty states.

Alternative Spending

Because death sentences cost significantly more than life sentences (see Cost), abolishing the death penalty would provide additional resources that could be used for other ways of dealing with crime, like services for victims' family members, additional police officers, and indigent defense funding.

Alternatives Resources

Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation

Restorative Justice

Southern Center for Human Rights

Four of the many reasons to Oppose the Death Penalty:



Arbitrary Application


Jerry BanksGeorgia Conviction: 1975Charges Dismissed: 1980 ‪Sentenced to death for two counts of murder. Banks' conviction was overturned on the basis of newly discovered evidence which was allegedly known to the state. (Banks v. State, 218 S.E.2d 851 (Ga. 1975)). Banks committed suicide after his wife divorced him. His estate won a settlement from the county for the benefit of his children.

162 People have been exonerated from death row in the United States since 1973; SIX were convicted and sentenced to death in Georgia. 

Causes of Wrongful ConvictionS

There have been 2,231 documented exonerations in the United States since 1989.  Many of those exonerations are thanks to DNA testing; most of the wrongful convictions were due to mistaken eyewitness identification.

Of the 2,231 documented exonerations in the United States since 1989, at least 652 of them have involved a mistaken identification.

Of the 32 documented exonerations in Georgia, 13 have involved a mistaken identification.


According to data maintained by the Innocence Project, mistaken identification is the leading cause of convictions in the United States that were later demonstrated to be wrongful thanks to DNA testing.  It has played a role in over 70% of convictions that have been overturned thanks to DNA testing.

"The number of DNA exonerations has demonstrated that innocent people are convicted and sentenced to death.  While eyewitness testimony commonly is believed to be one of the most reliable and incriminating types of evidence, in fact mistaken eyewitness identification testimony is the leading cause of wrongful convictions in the United States."

- Mark Loudon-Brown, Senior Attorney at the Southern Center for Human Rights

”Every dollar we spend on a capital case is a dollar we can't spend anywhere else... We have to let the public know what it costs [to pursue a capital case.]” 
  --John M. Bailey, Chief State's Attorney, Connecticut

The death penalty costs significantly more than permanent imprisonment.

‪The most comprehensive study yet conducted on the cost of capital punishment found that the death penalty costs North Carolina $2.16 million more per execution than the a non-death penalty murder case with a sentence of life imprisonment.

‪[Death Penalty Info Center]

‪Georgia Facts on Cost

‪There has never been a complete study of the cost of Georgia's death penalty.  However, the recent case of Brian Nichols illustrates the huge drain capital punishment places on the state's resources.  According to this report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the trial phase alone cost over $3 million.  

‪But why does pursuing the death penalty cost more than life imprisonment?  

‪Trials cost more when the stakes are higher because of more careful jury selection and more experts and investigators.  The trial is followed by a lengthy penalty phase, state appeals, and federal appeals, all of which incur more costs.  Finally, the costs of maintaining a death row and execution chamber makes housing death row inmates more expensive than those sentenced to life without parole.

"Getting the death penalty in Georgia is as consistent as a lightning strike."
  --"A Matter of Life and Death," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 2007

The death penalty is intended to punish only the most brutal crimes... 

...but in reality its application is biased, arbitrary, and unfair.  Several other factors contribute to who receives a death sentence more than the brutality of the crime, including race, class, and geography, among others.  Here are some facts from Georgia:




 The district attorney in each county has sole discretion over when to pursue a death sentence. This means that where a crime is committed can be as significant as what type of crime is committed in determining who lives and who dies.

"The reality is that capital punishment in America is a lottery.  It is a punishment that is shaped by the constraints of poverty, race, geography and local politics."

 --Bryan Stevenson, death row lawyer

"We believe the death penalty denies the power of Christ to redeem, restore, and transform all human beings."
--United Methodist Church  

"If a person foolishly does me wrong, I will return to him the protection of my boundless love. The more evil that comes from him, the more good will go from me."
-- The Buddha

What does your faith community have to say about the Death Penalty?

More information can be found on the Faith Communities Resources tab or via clicking HERE.