Last updated on: 10/6/2016 | Author:

Bryan Vila, PhD Biography

Former Professor of Criminal Justice at Washington State University Spokane
Con to the question "Should the Death Penalty Be Legal?"

“Although I have no fundamental moral compunctions about allowing the death penalty, I oppose it because the death penalty sometimes leads to irremediable injustice through mistake, it is more expensive than life without possibility of parole, and it often makes heroes out of monsters.

My reasoning is as follows: First, mistakes are inevitable in the justice system. However rare, the execution of those who have been wrongfully convicted causes far more harm than any limited benefits associated with deterrence, retribution or incapacitation. Second, the necessary inefficiency of the death penalty process as it strives to minimize wrongful convictions is demonstrably more expensive than imprisoning a capital murderer for life without possibility for parole. LWOP [Life Without Parole] is a superior penalty over death because offenders who are found innocent after conviction can be released while those who have been executed cannot be brought back to life. Finally, capital murder trials put murderers at the center of a media circus for years – I know from personal experience that many of them enjoy this attention immensely. But non-capital murder trials that hand down a sentence of LWOP receive little attention and the offenders tend to fade rapidly into well-deserved obscurity.”

Email to, June 25, 2010

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Professor, Criminal Justice, Washington State University, 2005-2016
  • Member, American Society of Criminology
  • Member, Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences
  • Member, International Association of Chiefs of Police
  • Chief, Crime Control and Prevention Research Division, National Institute of Justice, US Department of Justice, 2002-2005
  • Founding Director, Wyoming Statistical Analysis Center for Rural Policy Studies, 2000-2001
  • Associate Professor, Criminal Justice, University of Wyoming, 1997-2002
  • Founding Director, Focused Research Group on Orange County Street Gangs, 1995-1997
  • Associate Professor, Criminology, University of California at Irvine, 1990-1997
  • Director, Trust Territory Bureau of Investigation, Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, 1980-1984
  • Police Officer and Sergeant, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, 1969-1978
  • Marine Biology Aide, Naval Undersea Research and Development Center, 1968-1969
  • Field Communications Specialist, US Marine Corps, 1964-1967
  • PhD, Ecology, University of California at Davis, 1990
  • MS, Ecology, University of California at Davis, 1989
  • MPA, Public Administration, Pepperdine University, 1974
  • BA, Public Management, Pepperdine University, 1972
  • He retired from Washington State University in Aug. 2016