Monday, November 9, 2009

Death penalty found to have little deterrent effect

Over the weekend Houston Chronicle columnist Rick Casey wrote an interesting piece on whether or not the death penalty has any deterrent effect. Sociologist Thorsten Sellin found no deterrent effect when he studied the issue in 1967. One year later Gary Becker, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, determined the death penalty had a deterrent effect.

In 2005 two different studies reached bizarrely contradictory conclusions with one study suggesting that the death penalty might contribute to additional murders due to cultural brutalization while another study found that the death penalty saved about 150 lives a year.

Now the journal of the American Society of Criminology, Criminology, is about to release a study conducted by Duke sociologist Kenneth C. Land and Sam Houston State criminologist Raymond Teske, Jr. that concludes there is not enough data to make any definitive statement about the effect of the death penalty on national murder rates since the number of executions (outside the State of Texas) are too sporadic to draw any valid conclusions.

This new study focuses on the effect of executions in Texas since the death machine kicked into overdrive back in 1994. Their research seems to indicate that since 1994, the murder rate in Texas has declined between .5 and 2.5 homicides in the months after each execution. At the low end that would translate to 5 to 10 fewer murders a year.

Mr. Casey points out that the study found no correlation between the amount of publicity for each execution and any subsequent drop in the homicide rate. The study also shows that this "deterrent" effect is stronger on murders for which the death penalty is not an option.

As long as people drink and argue about girls and money there are going to be murders and no number of executions is going to stop it.

3 comments:

dudleysharp said...

or maybe:

"The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents"
http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/07/05/the-death-penalty-more-protection-for-innocents.aspx


"Deterrence and the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock"
http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/07/02/deterrence-and-the-death-penalty-a-reply-to-radelet-and-lacock.aspx


"Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let's be clear"
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2009/03/death-penalty-deterrence-murder-rates.html


16 recent deterrence studies, inclusive of their defenses, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation,
http://www.cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPDeterrence.htm

Houston DWI Attorney Paul B. Kennedy, said...

Thank you for your comment. We may not agree but I appreciate your taking the time to read the post and submit a comment.

dudleysharp said...

You're most welocme. Thank you for providing the forum.

I sent those links and others to Rick Casey and others in the media.