Skip to comments.John Lott: Death as Deterrent
Posted on 06/20/2007 9:23:38 AM PDT by neverdem
Capital punishment clearly increases the risk to criminals of engaging in various crimes, especially murder. But does this increased risk affect criminals behavior? Last week the academic debate erupted in the media with an Associated Press article headlined "Studies: Death Penalty Discourages Crime, but even this recognition downplays the general consensus on the findings.
The media is a bit Johnny-come-lately in recognizing all the research that has been done on the death penalty over the last decade, with nine of the 12 refereed academic studies by economists finding that the death penalty saves lives.
Some academics are yet to be convinced and argue that the risk of a criminal being executed for murder is so remote that, It is hard to believe that fear of execution would be a driving force in a rational criminals calculus in modern America.
Yet, before trying to answer whether this risk to criminals is significant, lets first consider how another group that faces similar dangers reacts to the risk of death.
Academics classify being a police officer as an extremely dangerous job. In 2005, 55 police officers were murdered on the job, while another 67 were accidentally killed. With nearly 700,000 full-time, sworn law enforcement officers in the United States, the murder rate of police officers comes to 1 in 12,500, a ratio that jumps to 1 in 5,600 when we include accidental deaths.
Police officers undertake a variety of measures to reduce the dangers: They wear bullet-proof vests, develop special procedures for approaching stopped cars and in some situations officers wait for backup even when this increases the probability that a suspect will escape.
These dangers also create strain on officers marriages, contributing to a divorce rate that is twice that of the general population.
Officers undertake all these measures as a natural...
(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com ...
Im always amazed at the number of conservative who entrust the government with the power to kill.
I believe that in most states the jury would convict on first degree murder. Then the jury goes into the penalty phase of the trial and after that part is over, they vote for either a life sentence or execution. That being the case, you are wrong. The jury does decide if he gets executed. The only part the government plays in this scenario is carrying out the sentence. I agree about one thing, many times they are doing a poor job of carrying out that sentence. Mummiah Jamal (whatever the heck his name is) is still on death row here in Pa. It's been something like 20 years now.
Also, potential jurors are asked before trial if they can convict someone of the death penalty. In fact, the Supreme Court just ruled on this very subject making it easier to toss potential jurors who do not properly answer questions about if they could convict someone of the death penatly. The case was Uttecht v. Brown.
Maybe you think that only abortionists should have the power to kill?
Just about everybody already has the raw power to kill other human beings. The question is whether the killing is just or unjust.
The state has been delegated not only the power, but the authority and attendant duty to punish those who commit murder and other crimes. The state does not have authority to punish the innocent. If in those cases of offenses worthy of death the state refuses to execute the guilty it commits injustice itself, and thus fails in its primary duty. If that is your prescription, what you will end up with in the long run is a government that punishes the innocent and lets the guilty go free.
You all are right that a jury makes the decision whether to convict. But based on what? Who is responsible for conducting a fair trial? Many DA’s are not above bending the rules to win, and many judges don’t stop them. Furthermore, the jurors can still be wrong. Ever hear of a “stacked jury”? Bottom line is, there are far too many things that can go wrong, and there’s far too much trust put in the state to expect trials to be conducted flawlessly. Our legal system is not 100%. The death penalty is. Until our legal system is perfect (i.e. never), we should not use the death penalty.
“the risk of a criminal being executed for murder is so remote that, It is hard to believe that fear of execution would be a driving force in a rational criminals calculus in modern America.
Then we just need to raise the odds of a criminal being executed for murder to the point where everyone agrees that it is a deterrent - a true win-win situation
I’m content to limit the death penalty to cases where there is moral certitude about guilt, and no major uncertainties to be resolved by the jury. (i.e. caught on camera killing, DNA from a stranger in a rape murder with no question of consent, etc.)
“Who is responsible for conducting a fair trial? Many DAs are not above bending the rules to win, and many judges dont stop them.”
I agree that the system is not equitable. That is why I’m applauding the North Carolina bar going after Nifong. Prosecutors who are found to be doing whatever it takes to win a case and bending the rules should be punished and if they do so in a death penalty case, the punishment should be higher. To me, that is taking part in a murder.
Our system is not perfect and never will be (as you noted) however we need to continually work to make it that way. We need to hold our prosecutors and judges to the fire whenever possible. This is where the press (imho) has fallen down on the job. It is their duty to expose scumbags that wear robes or prosecute criminals.
Then those who deserve death will not be punished as they ought, which is injustice. To deliberately promote injustice because of a tiny minority of unjust mistakes is insane and self-defeating. It is national suicide.
Is the problem that you just have difficulty accepting that the death penalty is the just and proportionate punishment for stealing the life of another person?
I think we’re more or less on the same page. I don’t think we should give up on the legal system, and we should hold people to the fire when possible. However, most cases don’t make the news like the Duke rape case - people never know about them, and never care about them. The press goes with whatever sells, so if they can make a juicy story out of it, they’ll cover it.
I personally would rather have a thousand guilty people free than one innocent person executed. That’s unforgivable in my book. If I could somehow be 100% sure, I might consider it appropriate.
South Dakota first execution in 60 years to occur this week.
The prisoner wants to die; from what the story says and did not appeal.
It’s been a long two days, I don’t always know what should be posted as separate if anyone cares too.
How interesting that South Dakota’s first execution in 60 years is to a prisoner who pleaded guilty to the crime; and “Page has declined to make further appeals and has said that he wants to die.”
Thanks for the link.