Moreover you shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death (Numbers 35:31). Surprisingly, many Christians oppose the death penalty. Almost everyone has an opinion on the death penalty; however, few have done the necessary study to understand the complexity of the issue. Basic issues in the study of capital punishment are deterrence, protection, and economy. Supporters of capital punishment cite numerous scriptural passages, which seem to lend support to their position. In the Old Testament, the people put to death included those who made sacrifices to false gods and such, and those who committed similar offenses against the faith and cult of Israel. On the other hand, those who oppose the death penalty note scriptural exceptions. Cain was not put to death for slaying his brother Abel. The penalty of death for the commission of a crime is an issue that tends to defy the purpose of reason. .
The most frequently advanced argument supporting the death penalty is the threat of death deters people from committing offenses. Unfortunately, claims of deterrence are personal opinions based on intuition and common sense that are not supported by scientific evidence. Supporters of capital punishment, for example, contend that this punishment deters people from killing law enforcement officers. There were numerous studies that have been conducted on the deterrent effect of capital punishment, and there is no evidence to support this point. Criminologists generally agree that certainty, not severity, leads to deterrence. The year-end prisoner count for those on death row in the United States in 1978 was 445. No death sentence was carried out in that year, and there was only one execution in 1977. Those opposing the death penalty assert that this form of punishment is not a deterrent; it is only a threat that is rarely carried out. .
A second argument for capital punishment is protection.