Support for the death penalty in the Tree of Life Synagogue Murder is the first of three posts that trace my thinking about the tragedy in Pittsburgh. This case has lingered in the back of my mind since the news broke. The next three posts trace that thinking.

The death penalty was recently imposed on the Tree of Life Synagogue Murderer. In an action of pure hate, this individual caused much suffering among the families of those he killed and maimed disgusted many Americans, and caused many Jews to question the ideals of the American experiment in democracy and the ideal of free practice of religion in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

As a Jewish American, I was personally repulsed by the acts of this lone antisemite with an assault rifle entering a house of worship to complete the heinous act of mass murder. I loosely followed the trial and as the sentence of death was announced I decided that writing about the value of the death penalty could help to clarify my own thinking on the subject. This post is the first of three about Capital Punishment. Here I make the basic zealot’s argument in support of Capital Punishment. In the next post, I do the same for the opposition argument. Not until the third post will I address my conclusions about this form of punishment. So here goes…

Support for the Death Penalty: Retribution and Justice

The Tree of Life Synagogue murders were a horrifying act of violence that resulted in the loss of innocent lives and caused immense suffering to the victims’ families and the wider community. Capital punishment ensures that the perpetrator faces a proportional punishment for their actions. The concept of “an eye for an eye” is deeply ingrained in human societies and serves as a fundamental principle of justice. By imposing the death penalty, the legal system is acknowledging the severity of the crime and provides a sense of closure to the affected families and the public.


One of the core arguments for the death penalty is its potential as a deterrent. Knowing that certain crimes can lead to the ultimate consequence can dissuade potential offenders from committing them. In high-profile cases like the Tree of Life Synagogue murders, where the violence was premeditated and targeted a specific group of people, the death penalty can serve as a warning to individuals with similar motivations that society will not tolerate such acts.

Support for the Death Penalty: Public Safety

Incarceration, even for life, can sometimes lead to the possibility of escape, parole, or further violence within prison. By implementing the death penalty, society can guarantee that the offender will never others again. This permanent removal of dangerous individuals contributes to public safety and protects innocent lives.

Closure for Victims’ Families

The loss of a loved one in such a violent and senseless manner can lead to prolonged grief and trauma for the victims’ families. The death penalty can provide a sense of closure, allowing them to move forward with their lives, knowing that the individual responsible for their loved ones’ death will never harm anyone else.

Support for the Death Penalty: Punishment Fitting the Crime

The Tree of Life Synagogue murders involved a calculated and targeted attack on a place of worship, leading to multiple fatalities and injuries. Some argue that such an extreme act of violence warrants the most severe punishment available, which is the death penalty. It reflects society’s collective outrage and sends a message that such crimes will be met with the harshest consequences.

Law and Order

Supporting the death penalty reinforces the importance of upholding law and order in society. By holding the perpetrator accountable and imposing the most severe punishment, the justice system demonstrates its commitment to maintaining an enlightened and safe society.

Support for the Death Penalty: Conviction Certainty

In cases where guilt is beyond doubt, proponents of the death penalty argue that it serves as an appropriate response. In instances like the Tree of Life Synagogue murders, where the evidence and witnesses identify the shooter as the sole responsible party, the certainty of conviction removes concerns about potential wrongful executions.

Aggravated Crimes and Criminal Retribution

The Tree of Life Synagogue murders can be classified as an aggravated crime due to its particularly brutal and premeditated nature. The death penalty acts as a form of criminal retribution for the extreme harm caused to the victims and their families, offering a punishment that reflects the severity of the crime.

Support for the Death Penalty: Supreme Penalty and Severity

The death penalty is often referred to as the “supreme penalty” because it represents the most extreme form of punishment that a society can impose on an individual. In cases like the Tree of Life Synagogue murders, where multiple lives were taken in a targeted attack, supporters of the death penalty believe that this severity is necessary to address the gravity of the crime and uphold societal values.

Capital Punishment Supporter and Death Penalty Advocate

Supporters of the death penalty firmly believe in its efficacy as a tool for justice and public safety. They advocate for its application in cases where the circumstances warrant the most severe punishment, as they believe it serves as a strong deterrent and offers appropriate retribution for certain crimes.

Support for the Death Penalty: Legal Process and Due Diligence

The death penalty is typically imposed only after a thorough legal process, which includes numerous appeals and reviews to ensure that the accused receives fair treatment and opportunities to present their case. The exhaustive legal process safeguards against potential errors and wrongful convictions.

Preventing Future Crimes

By executing individuals who have committed heinous crimes, society ensures that these offenders will never have the never again repeat their actions. While rehabilitation is an important goal for some criminals, there are instances where rehabilitation may not be possible or appropriate, and capital punishment offers a permanent solution to protect society from the most dangerous offenders.

Support for the Death Penalty: Restoring Faith in the Justice System

In high-profile cases like the Tree of Life Synagogue murders, the public’s confidence in the justice system may be at stake. By imposing the death penalty, the justice system can demonstrate its commitment to holding individuals accountable for their actions, regardless of their background or social status, thus restoring faith in the system’s ability to deliver justice.

Symbolic Value

The death penalty holds a symbolic value for society. By showing that there are consequences for extreme acts of violence, it reinforces the idea that every individual is accountable for their actions. It sends a strong message that society will not tolerate the disregard for human life demonstrated in the Tree of Life Synagogue murders.

Support for the Death Penalty: Public Opinion and Support

The death penalty has historically garnered significant public support in cases of extreme violence and terrorism. In the aftermath of tragedies like the Tree of Life Synagogue murders, a vocal segment of the population may seek the death penalty as a form of collective response to the atrocity committed.

Dignity for Victims

Capital punishment offers a form of justice and vindication for the victims and their families. For some, knowing that the offender will face the most severe penalty can provide a measure of closure and dignity for the memory of their loved ones.

Support for the Death Penalty: Proportionality

Some proponents argue that the death penalty provides a punishment that is proportionate to the gravity of the crime committed. In cases of mass shootings and terrorism, where innocent lives are ruthlessly taken, proponents believe that no lesser punishment would adequately reflect the seriousness of the offense.

Consistency in Sentencing

In certain cases, life imprisonment may allow the possibility of parole or release due to factors such as good behavior or changes in the legal landscape. Supporters of the death penalty argue that it provides consistency in sentencing for the most severe crimes, ensuring that the punishment remains commensurate with the offense.

Support for the Death Penalty: Preventing Prison Overcrowding

Incarcerating individuals for life without parole can contribute to prison overcrowding, leading to resource strain and potential security issues. By implementing the death penalty, society can mitigate some of these challenges.

Closure for Law Enforcement and First Responders

The impact of tragedies like the Tree of Life Synagogue murders extends beyond the immediate victims and their families. Law enforcement officers, first responders, and the wider community may experience emotional and psychological repercussions. The death penalty can provide a sense of closure and acknowledgment for those who were involved in responding to and investigating the crime.

In conclusion

The Tree of Life Synagogue murders represents a tragic and egregious act of violence that has left lasting scars on the victims’ families and society. Support for the death penalty, in this case, is based on principles of retribution, justice, deterrence, public safety, accountability, and severity. Proponents argue that the death penalty is a fitting and necessary response to the shooter’s actions, providing closure to the victims’ families, deterring potential offenders, and ensuring that society remains safe from further harm.


By Politics-as-Usual

Roger is a retired Professor of language and literacy. Over the past 15 years since his retirement, Roger has kept busy with reading, writing, and creating landscape photographs. In this time of National crisis, as Fascist ideas and policies are being introduced to the American people and ignored by the Mainstream Press, he decided to stand up and be counted as a Progressive American with some ideas that should be shared with as many people who care to read and/or participate in discusssions of these issues. He doesn't ask anyone to agree with his point of view, but if entering the conversation he demands civility. No conspiracy theories, no wild accusations, no threats, no disrespect will be tolerated. Roger monitors all comments and email communication. That is the only rule for entering the conversation. One may persuade, argue for a different point of view, or toss out something that has not been discussed so long as the tone remains part of a civil discussion. Only then can we find common ground and meaningful democratic change.

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