One could say that the death penalty is unjust due to an apparent hypocrisy. When a murderer takes a victim’s life, the victim doesn’t really have a choice in the matter. When a murderer gets subjected to the death penalty for this crime, they too, have no choice in the matter. However, this hypocrisy is precisely why the death penalty is considered a punishment. It’s not meant to treat the murderer with more kindness than they show to their victims. If that was the case, then the death penalty would certainly be unjust. Since it treats them as equals, the death penalty is just. This, of course, isn’t the only reason that the death penalty is just.
It’s just for taxpayers because without the death penalty, these inmates would, at best, rot in prison. At this point, any prospects they have are effectively reduced to nothing. They could find God, or write the greatest novel ever written, and none of it would matter in the least. The death penalty ensures that taxpayers aren’t paying to feed and house a person who will make no further contributions to society. In a country where we’re constantly building new prisons, in a world where overpopulation is rampant, what’s the point of keeping these people alive?
It’s just for the inmates themselves because while it may be inhumane to take their lives, it’s certainly more humane than letting them rot in prison for the rest of their lives. Many inmates would likely prefer to be on death row than to be mixed in with the colorful people one finds in prison. On death row, an inmate will get their own cell, and they don’t get subjected to the physical abuse that prisons are notorious for.
More importantly, it’s just for the victim’s family. It eliminates the chance of the inmate escaping from prison, whereupon they would almost certainly cause harm, safe in the knowledge that the worst that can happen to them is get sent back to prison (where they may very well escape again). The death penalty adds a certain finality to the proceedings, and gives the victim’s family closure. Although many families would likely be more than happy to see the person who killed their love one rot in prison, it doesn’t make it an ideal situation for any of the parties involved. And letting someone rot in prison isn’t justice, and it certainly isn’t just.