Jon Henke at QandO muses about the international perception of the death penalty and whether or not America could improve its image by abolishing it. He writes that:
After all, the primary international objections to the United States have been with our belligerence, propensity to violence and disrespect for international standards. It seems to me that uliminating the death penalty would soften our harsher edges in the public view...as well as eliminating a talking point for our opponents.
Perhaps so. And, as he writes, there are certainly practical reasons to consider eliminating capital punishment, such as the possibility of making a mistake and the incredible expense of capital prosecutions.
Still, aside from all that, I think we should not forget that our system of punishments isn't designed to make us popular, it's intended to bring about justice. That's why we call it the justice system. Justice will not always be popular, either at home or abroad. As a democracy we must adhere to the wishes of our own people -- even if we think they thwart justice -- but why should we sacrifice justice to "soften" our public image with third-parties? I think it would be morally perilous -- regardless of one's position on the death penalty -- to base questions of justice on popularity. The problem of capital punishment is essentially a moral question, and good is good regardless of how others perceive it.
(HT: Jeff the Baptist.)