Don't be too hard on the Italians; they have been using the Coliseum as an anti-death penalty symbol for years (as that ABC article states).
I can appreciate your ambivalence about the death penalty. It's tricky negotiating any of these these subjects fraught with emotions and emotional manipulation. But the argument you make for being in favor of executions, that it's what you would want should a family member be murdered, is one of these emotionally manipulative arguments we should be skeptical of.
Let's leave aside the question of whether the government should be in the business of carrying out personal vendettas (I, for instance, would want executed anyone who might hurt my dog, and that motherfucker who broke into mine and Chris' cars the night I broke my arms) or of killing folks (which, for a small government dude like yourself, are prospects that might give you more pause than they seem to) and focus on some of the non-moral variables you referred to (I agree that these are the most compelling anti-death penalty rationales). Here are the circumstances under which you would see your loved one's killer executed.
- First, the victim would have to be white. The murders of non-whites don't get avenged with capital punishment the same way those of whites do.
- Also, the accused killer would have to be non-white. Whites that kill whites don't get executed quite as often (even though whites kill more whites than non-whites do).
- The accused killer would also have to be unable to afford their own attorney. So, if the killer is poor, there's a much better chance of their being charged with a capital crime. In Texas, though, there is no public defender system; if you're charged with a crime and need a court-appointed attorney you're as likely to get a lawyer with, say, tax experience as with criminal defense (there's also no guarantee of competency). In such instances if you're charged with a capital crime, you're almost certainly going to be executed (and you don't even have to really be guilty*).
Talk to you later,
*This article is long, but it's good.