Ok, now for my stance on this subject!
I have gone back and forth on this. Being the victim of rape, I was at one time very much a proponent of the death penalty. Vengeance was a word I fully believed in. And whenever I heard about child molesters I thought the best punichment would be just to turn them over to the parents of the child.
but over time I came to see, as I believe Sylvia pointed out, that we can never be 100% certain that someone is guilty. The death penalty is pretty final - no going back and saying "oops, sorry, we had the wrong guy." It's bad enough when someone has been locked away for half their life - but at least they can do something with the other half.
Now I do believe that our justice system has taken this "cruel and unusual punishment" thing a bit too far. i mean, we have innocent children on the streets that don't get treated a 10th as well as our rapists and murderers do!
Tvs, weight rooms, libraries, I've heard rumors of prisons with carpeting. These men have beds, hot meals, clothing, and free health care - that we as taxpayers take care of. And plenty of homeless families that have broken no laws except to be unlucky have none of this. Where's that justice? (I realize some people on the streets bring it on themselves - but not all of them - and definitely not the children).
Punishment should be something that is a deterrent to crime, not something that many people in this country could wish they coould have!