They argued that the death penalty was needlessly cruel, overrated as a deterrent, and occasionally imposed in fatal error. Along with Quaker leaders and other social reformers, they defended life imprisonment as a more rational alternative. Countries such as Venezuela and Portugal were the first nations to abolish the death penalty altogether (http://www.richard.clark32.btinternet.co.uk/thoughts.html, 2004).1.) Incapacitation of the criminal - Capital punishment permanently removes the worst criminals from society and should prove much cheaper and safer for the rest of us than long term or permanent incarceration. It is self evident that dead criminals cannot commit any further crimes, either within prison or after escaping or being released from it
2.) Cost - Money is not an inexhaustible commodity and the state may very well better spend our (limited) resources on the old, the young and the sick rather than the long term imprisonment of murderers, rapists etc.3.) Vengeance or retribution - Execution is a very real punishment rather than some form of "rehabilitative" treatment, the criminal is made to suffer in proportion to the offence. Although whether there is a place in a modern society for the old fashioned principal of "lex talens" (an eye for an eye) is a matter of personal opinion
4.) Deterrence - There are numerous and great examples that in those countries (e.g. Singapore), which almost always carry out death sentences there is generally far less serious crime. This tends to indicate that the death penalty is a deterrent, but only where execution is an absolute certainty
Death penalty has been banned in many countries. In the United States, an earlier move to eliminate capital punishment has now been reversed and more and more states are resorting to capital punishment for serious offenses such as murder (http://www.duhaime.org/dictionary/dict-c.htm, 2004).
The arguments for and against death penalty started with the legal issues concerning the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on Furman vs. Georgia case. During this trial it has been argued that capital punishment is a law that is evidently "arbitrary and capricious." Racial bias is one of the strongest arguments for the 'arbitrariness' of death penalty (http://justice.uaa.alaska.edu/death/history.html, 2006).