Tom is opposed to the death penalty. America was founded on a healthy skepticism about the power of the state, which is why our government consists of different branches that serve as checks and balances on state power. At best, the power of government to take a person's life should not be conceded without absolute certainty of the justice of that action. The capacity to achieve such certainty must be viewed skeptically.
Studies of the death penalty justify this skepticism. DNA testing has proven juries wrong in dozens of cases. Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, 82 inmates have been freed from death row. That's one death row inmate wrongfully convicted for every seven executed. Moreover, there is no evidence that the death penalty deters crime. In fact, Texas, which has the death penalty, has six times the crime rate of Wisconsin, which does not allow executions. And from a purely utilitarian economic point of view, death sentences cost society far more than life in prison. The average death row inmate costs $2 million through their execution. A life sentence on the other hand, averages only a quarter of that, about $500,000.
How Tom will make a Difference
Tom believes that elected officials should govern with a sense of humility and justice, and that means not enabling our government to make tragic mistakes with the death penalty.