What is your opinion of the death penalty? How important is this issue in deciding which political candidates you support?
I abhor it -- for a lot of different reasons, both moral and practical.
On the practical side, one, it's never been shown to be a deterrent to crime, and two (a biggy), putting someone on death row is a gazillion times more expensive than jail b/c those convicted may spend 5-10-15-20 yrs. alive in legal wrangling before the end.
And speaking of legal wrangling, another big strike against the death penalty, in the US at least, is that it's unjustly applied, i.e. those given death penalty are disproportionately black.
And then there's the whole false evidence / railroading / false confession thing that's being proved more and more as DNA evidence is brought up, legal defenders bring up old cases, etc.
Oh, and the fact that almost all other US allies and "civilized" places have outlawed capital punishment is also pretty damn sad. I mean, China is probably #1 for executions, followed by us. Something isn't real right about that.
So all in all, it's pretty hard to say the death penalty is a fair punishment. Sure, I -can- understand the basic impulse to just get RID of a sadistic, crazy maniac, serial killer, etc., but in practice, nope, doesn't work.
Now re politicians, I overwhelmingly support ones who who never be on the side of capital punishment. Or, even if they are OK with it in some cases, they would NOT be the sort of politician, like say a Texas governor, who goes around -bragging- about all the executions in their state, calling anti-death-penalty people "soft on crime," saying they want to "flip the switch," etc. I mean... WTF? Especially given a lot of these death-pushers profess to be Christian. I pretty much consider that crap utter pandering, i.e. give people gladiatoral games to sate the plebes' thirst for blood.