Arguments abound on if, why, and when the death penalty is justified or not. In my opinion, though, most of these arguments are missing the most important point of the discussion. A point, I think, that we can all agree on: Innocent people should not be executed.
And yet, innocent people are being executed. Why? Because mistakes always happen. No matter how well-designed any country’s process of determining guilt is, the probability of wrongful convictions will always be non-zero. This means that if the death penalty exists as part of a justice system, it is inevitable that a non-zero number of people will get sentenced to death despite being innocent.
Since no system of justice can guarantee that it will never wrongfully convict anyone, having the death penalty as part of a justice system is essentially the same as saying: “We are okay with the fact that this will lead to the death of innocent people.”
Therefore, there are no circumstances that justify the death penalty in my opinion. Not because there are no people who may deserve the death penalty, but because of the inevitable price society must pay for having it.