If you get the death penalty, you get closure and you know when it's coming. If you get life in jail, closure can sneak up at any minute. If I had a choice, I'd choose the first.
But, people on this thread have forgotten the three primary purposes of the US Penal System: To Punish (We know that one), To protect society (also, obvious), and to REHABILLITATE! Jails have programs on everything from schooling to prisoner crime rehab (where jailmates learn how to stop their crime and be a productive member of society.
If a man raped a little boy, went to jail, did rehab, and was psychoanalyzed to prove he is sane, I would accept him as a part of society. It would take much time to trust him (especially if I had a small child), and I would be very suspicous. But I would try my best to see what he is, rather than what he was.
Forgiveness is very improtant;the world cannot function without it. It may take time, but it eventually needs to happen.
Don't get me wrong: These people need to be checked up on by police and be watched very closely. But if the person is truly reahbilitated, he (and the people around him) hould have nothing to worry about.