Just hang them
Lethal injection, surprisingly, is actually cheaper.
It's my firm belief that Saddam Hussein shouldn't have been executed. There's a reason two thirds of the world have abolished capital punishment.
The death penalty is the ultimate in cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments. It is worrying that the US (who flatly refused to sign the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child, the only country not to do so, other than Somalia) still regards it in most states as acceptable.
Those looking for the ultimate punishment, consider this: People kept alive in prison will suffer. Dead people don't suffer. Hence, I'd rather the worst criminals were simple denied the possibility of parole rather than be executed. I don't really mind paying for that. There are other reasons against the death penalty, but instead of stacking reasons against opposition reasons this has the advantage of negating the main purpose.
I am not wholly opposed to allowing life sentence prisoners who have served a significant time, as punishment, and are still unlikely to be released anytime soon, being allowed to apply for the right to die. Defining the limits for such would be key.
I'm not looking for the ultimate punishment. As a non religious person, I don't think that having the worst criminals suffering forever (well, for the rest of their lives) is a good punishment. Getting rid of them is fair enough, removes the risk of them escaping, and saves loads of money which would be better used if they did something to prevent people from becoming murderers, rather than awarding them for it.
Efforts should focus on prevention, however arguing about what the ultimate punishment is is grabbing at the wrong end of the stick. "Punishment" shouldn't even be the point of it. Punishment is just a euphemism for revenge, a hypocritical, evil and barbarous impulse unworthy of human behaviour. We've put a man on the moon and figured out DNA, We are better that that. Rather than revenge, the focus of the corrections system instead should be firstly, to keep the public safe from dangerous criminals, and secondarily to rehabilitate, or at least attempt to rehabilitate the perpetrators of heinous crimes. In all too many cases, Homicide is the result of a serious mental illness( bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia) or a societal one (Sociopathology resulting from lifelong exposure to violence inherent in areas of poverty). A society that sanctions the execution criminals by the state is setting a double standard that essentially vindicates homicide and vigilantism. It's sends a brutalizing message to the public that: "Yes, murder is all right and jolly, at least if approved by certain people under certain circumstances."
Note: In practice, execution actually costs the state more money than lifetime incarceration, due to the process of appeals.
I'm not convinced that 'the murdererer deserves to be punished' is a very good reason: there are some psychos that won't learn, regardless of the punishment doled out. Prison is there to segregate the dangerous from the rest of the world; I feel that often fines are more appropriate for many crimes (as opposed to jail time). If someone has 'reformed' (and can be trusted to keep to that), they should be let out [although, having said that, releasing the Lockerbie bomber made me think hard about that stance].
I oppose execution on moral grounds, as well as the inexcusable execution-of-the-innocent that sometimes happens. No-one knows how much pain a condemned prisoner feels as his body shuts down, and Googling "lethal injection" comes up with some violent cock-ups. One guy was convulsing for just over an hour, fully awake and aware what was happening -- that's so fucked up in so many ways.
As for BRS's comment, I'd prefer that assisted suicide was further up the priority list. The UK needs an assisted suicide clinic that is a bit more transparent than the Assange-arrogance of Dignitas. It reeks of *ism that suicide is legal, unless you're physically unable to do so.
Having said all this, if someone decided to gun down my entire family, I'm sure I could find it quite easy to reconsider my stance.
"Having said all this, if someone decided to gun down my entire family, I'm sure I could find it quite easy to reconsider my stance."
Quite Frankly, so could I, but if someone massacred my family I'd justifiably be having a fit of rage, I wouldn't be in a position where i'd be thinking clearly. That is why we have impartial governments. Retribution is a fruitless exercise in hypocrisy. It makes perfect sense and seems just in that moment of rage, but once the smoke has cleared and you take a step back you realize that it won't do anything but cause more suffering. It won't bring your family back.
We seem to have become sidetracked into a discussion of the punishment component of a sentence, presumably triggered by my putdown of the standard argument for executions (well, aside from the financial one, which others have dealt with). Some thoughts: Without a punishment part, there ceases to be a deterrent. Fines become unworkable since the necessary value of one would hopelessly bankrupt a convict as you move up the scale of seriousness - which isn't going to produce a more well-rounded person. Some element of punishment is often an unpleasant necessity and we should not buck away from it just because we'd rather avoid it. In many cases involving serious or violent crime, punishment ceases to be an issue since the necessary rehabilitation time is far in excess anyway.
However, the present situation is such that all we really have from prison is punishment and protection of the public. Punishment should generally be the least of all the considerations in a sentence, but it is currently the main. Rehabilitation is all but nonexistent in most of the world. To give examples I am familiar with, look at the cut of funding to HMP Grendon (the one and only rehabilitation prison in England and Wales) or, going further back, the closure of Special Unit at HMP Barlinnie, a smaller-scale scheme with similar aims in Scotland. Anybody with a non-life sentence is in jail purely for punishment with very few exceptions, and that is unjustifiable.
The release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi (no, I didn't have to look up his name) should have no bearing on your views on reform since - making the controversial assumption the conviction itself was correct or at least irrelevant - the cited reason was compassion for a dying man. Anybody who wishes to discuss the validity of such should not be tackling the decision itself, but rather the legislation as it stands: predictions of death are not an exact science - how long is Hawking overdue? Compassion is utterly vital, but the debate that should have and has never happened is how to go forward on that with such margins of uncertainty.
As a side note, a difficult problem is measuring reform, though it is not insurmountable and, indeed, it is supposedly already done for those by parole boards reviewing indefinite sentences once the minimum term has passed. As in to how it works currently I have no idea; just how the conditions of decades as a prisoner in Category A or B (or equivalent) prison are supposed to reform anyone is beyond me.
Regarding assisted suicide, I'd rather the scheme for those with illness or infirmity etc be entirely separate from any scheme for longterm prisoners.
One case I'd point at, whilst we are on the subject, is an Amerikan who killed another inmate because he wanted to die and the only method available was the death penalty. I would class that as a suicide as much as an execution.
A BULLET IS MUCH QUICKER. Here in South Africa (the world's crime capital) people commit crime to get INTO jail...free food, free TV, medical in the best hospitals, gyms, education. They get the right to vote and to belong to a union, they demand the best.
These callous murderers attack old people, tie them up, rape them, force boiling water from a kettle into their mouths, cut them up piece by piece or burn them alive... just for the fun of it.
People on this forum talk about inhumane execution of murderers and how it affects their human rights...WHERE THE FUCKING HELL ARE THE RIGHTS OF THE THOUSANDS OF INNOCENT VICTIMS? Get a life and read some South African Newspapers. I had a laugh when reading about British cops that were "very shocked" at a THIRD cop murdered in two years... Over here it happens DAILY. SHOOT THE MURDERING BASTARDS NO MATTER WHAT RACE.