Paul, by his own admission, has changed his position on capital punishment and is now opposed to the death penalty, chiefly out of fear than an innocent person may be sentenced to death.
“Do not be involved with the state in executing criminals or in any way approve the carrying out of the death penalty....
... Believers in the omnipotence of state military power are enthusiastic supporters of the death penalty. It’s strange to me that those who champion best the rights of pre-born are generally the strongest supporters of the death penalty and preventive, that is, aggressive, war. Ironically, those who find the death penalty an affront to life are usually the strongest supporters of abortion. I grant that there certainly is a difference in the life being protected; one is totally innocent—the unborn—and the other usually a person convicted of a horrible crime, like murder or rape. The difference of opinion is usually along the lines of conservative versus liberal.
This is one issue in which my views have shifted in recent years, especially since being elected to Congress. There was a time I simply stated that I supported the death penalty. Now my views are not so clearly defined. I do not support the federal death penalty, but constitutionally I cannot, as a federal official, interfere with the individual states that impose it.
After years spent in Washington, I have become more aware than ever of the government’s ineptness and the likelihood of its making mistakes. I no longer trust the U.S. government to invoke and carry out a death sentence under any conditions. Too many convictions, not necessarily federal, have been found to be in error, but only after years of incarcerating innocent people who later were released on DNA evidence.
Rich people when guilty are rarely found guilty and sentenced to death. Most people believe O. J. Simpson was guilty of murder but went free. This leads to a situation where innocent people without enough money are more likely to get the death penalty while the guilty rich people with good lawyers get off. For me it’s much easier just to eliminate the ultimate penalty and incarcerate the guilty for life—in case later evidence proves a mistaken conviction. The cost of incarceration is likely less than it is for death penalty appeals drawn out not for years but for decades.”
1980, Capital Punishment, Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom by Ron Paul
Paul on the Death Penalty
“You know over the years, I’ve held pretty rigid to all my beliefs but I’ve changed my opinion about the death penalty. For federal purposes, I no longer believe in the death penalty. I believed it has been issued unjustly. If you are rich you get away with it. If you’re poor and you’re from the inner city, you’re more likely to be prosecuted and convicted. And today, with the DNA evidences there’s been too many mistakes, so I am now opposed to the federal death penalty.”
September 27, 2007, Ron Paul speaking at the Republican Presidential Forum at the Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland