Your question was: Is the death penalty effective in the USA:
Amazing: Greetings! Please consider this information too.
The test for deterrence is not whether executions produce lower murder rates, but that executions produce fewer murders than if the death penalty did not exist. For example, the fact that the state of Delaware executes more people per capita (1/87,500) than any other state and has a murder rate 16 times lower than Washington, D.C. (5/100,000 vs 78.5/100,000) is not proof, per se, that the death penalty deters murder in Delaware or that the lack of the death penalty escalates murders and violent crime in Washington, D.C., which has the highest violent crime and murder rates in the U.S.
1) The argument that murderers are the least likely of all criminals to repeat their crimes is not only irrelevant, but also increasingly false. 6% of young adults paroled in 1978 after having been convicted of murder were arrested for murder again within 6 years of release. ("Recidivism of Young Parolees," 4, 1987, BJS). Murderers have so violated the human rights of their victims and of society that it should be a moral imperative that they never again have that opportunity.
2) Obviously, those executed cant murder again. "Of the roughly 52,000 state prison inmates serving time for murder in 1984, an estimated 810 had previously been convicted of murder and had killed 821 persons following their previous murder convictions. Executing each of these inmates would have saved 821 lives." (41, 1 Stanford Law Review, 11/88, pg. 153) Using a 75% murder clearance rate, it is most probable that the actual number of lives saved would have been 1026, or fifty times the number legally executed that year. This suggests that some 10,000 persons have been murdered, since 1971, by those who had previously committed additional murders (JFA). See B.5.
3) Death penalty opponents spend millions of dollars and countless man hours fighting the legal execution of, at most, 56 of our worst human rights violators per year, when they do nothing to fight for the end of those inhumane parole and probation release policies which result in the needless injury and slaughter of the innocent. "The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that convicted criminals free on parole and probation . . . commit at least 84,800 violent crimes every year, including 13,200 murders, 12,900 rapes, and 49,500 robberies." American Guardian, May 1997, pg. 26. Incredibly, this slaughter does not include violent crimes committed by repeat offenders who are released and who are not on "supervision". Where is the compassion in honoring the previous victims suffering and in protecting the human rights of future victims? Opponents actions show virtually no compassion for the victims of violent crime or concern for future victims, yet, they exhibit overwhelming support for those who violate our human rights and murder our loved ones.
4) 9-15% of those on death row committed, at least, one additional murder, prior to that murder (or those murders) which has currently put them on death row; 67% had a prior felony conviction; 42% had an active criminal justice status when they committed their capital offense; 14% of those sentenced to death from 1988-94, had received two or more death sentences ("Capital Punishment 1994", BJS 1995 & JFA). Should we err on the side of caution and protect the innocent and honor the memories of those murdered or should we give murderers the opportunity to harm again? Should we put prison personnel and other prisoners at any additional risk from known murderers? Prisoners on death row are 250% more likely to murder, in prison, than are prisoners in the general population. Lester, D., "Suicide and Homicide on Death Row", American Journal of Psychiatry, 143, 559, 1986.
5) The expected punishment for murder was only 1.5 years in 1985 and rose to only 2.7 years in 1995! (THE REYNOLDS REPORT, "Crime and Punishment in the U.S.", National Center for Policy Analysis, 1997). Expected punishment is calculated by measuring the probability of being caught, incarcerated, and time served. Why have we chosen to be so generous to murderers and so contemptuous of the human rights and suffering of the victims and future victims? See B. 2.
6) For a criminal justice system to have credibility and deterrent value, two factors are required: (1) a high rate of arrest and (2) punishment which reflects the severity of the crime, the criminals record and the demand for justice. The U.S. system has neither. Of the 10.3 million violent crimes in 1993, only 100,000 of those victimizations, or 1%, resulted in an actual jail sentence. Only 6.2% of all violent crimes result in arrest. (Prof. John J. DiIulio, Jr., Princeton Univ. 1995, The State of Violent Crime in America, 1/96 and Criminal Victimization 1993 , BJS, 1995.) The human rights of victims and future victims are consistently ignored.
7) With no death penalty and only life without parole (LWOP), there is no deterrent for LWOP inmates killing others while in prison or after escape. Indeed, there is actually a positive incentive to murder if a criminal has committed a LWOP offense and had not yet been captured. Currently, there are a
number of inmates who have killed numerous people in prison or after escape. Their punishment could not be increased because there is no death penalty in those states. Therefore, they will never be punished for those crimes. Never. Totally unacceptable, by any standard. Not surprisingly, death penalty opponents believe that LWOP is more severe than the death penalty. Hamilton, V., & Rakin, L.: "Interpreting the 8th Amendment", Bedau, H., & Pierce, C., ed., Capital Punishment in the United States, New York, AMS, 1976. This absurd belief, which has now become the newest mantra of opponents, is contradicted by all other surveyed groups, including prisoners (B.11 & 16).
8) Death Penalty opponents claim that there is a "brutalization effect" with executions, meaning, that executions show a low regard for human life and do, thereby, cause an increase in the murder rate. If the brutalization effect is real, it would be the only known legal sanction to cause an increase in wrongful behavior. Why would criminals become more likely to engage in illegal activities because the punishments for those activities become more severe? How absurd. Have dramatic increases in the rates of incarceration resulted in dramatic increases in kidnappings? Just the opposite. Further denouncing the brutalization effect is the fact that many respected studies show that executions do produce an individual and a general deterrent effect. And, there is, of course, common sense.
9) There are four rational conclusions one can make regarding general, or systemic, deterrence. (1) If the death penalty is not a deterrent and we execute, then we are executing our worst human rights violators. (2) If the death penalty is a deterrent and we execute, then we are executing those criminals and saving innocent lives. (3) If the death penalty is not a deterrent and we dont execute, then we are not sacrificing innocent lives. (4) If the death penalty is a deterrent and we dont execute, then we are sacrificing innocent lives. Regarding deterrence, it is necessary to err on the side of saving innocent life and not to err on the side of sacrificing innocent life. These are moral imperatives.
10) There are two mistakes we can make with those convicted of violent crimes. First, we can misjudge their character and keep them incarcerated too long, when they could have become constructive free persons, repaying even more their debt to society and to their victim(s). Secondly, we can misjudge their character and release them too soon, so that they further destroy the lives of our children, our brothers and sisters, our spouses and our parents, creating additional economic, physical, emotional and spiritual loss. For far too long, the U.S. has chosen to err on the side of those who have violated our human rights and has, thereby, expanded the river of blood and tears for victims and their survivors (See B.3). No more. Not in our name. We demand that the memories and suffering of crime victims be honored by justice - that is by a just punishment which reflects the severity of the crime. And, we must always err on the side of caution and compassion for those not yet harmed.
11) The most conclusive evidence that criminals fear the death penalty more than life without parole is provided by convicted capital murderers and their attorneys. 99.9% of all convicted capital murderers and their attorneys argue for life, not death, in the punishment phase of their trial. When the death penalty becomes real, murderers fear it the most. While it is obvious that the fear of execution did not deter those murderers from committing a capital crime, it is also clear that such fear is reduced because executions are neither swift nor sure in the U.S. However, as the probability of that punishment rises for those murderers, even they show a great fear of the death penalty. Although you will never deter all murderers, the effect of deterrence will rise as the probability of executions rise. Because, as the probability of executions rises, the fear of that punishment will also rise. And, that which we fear the most deters the most. Indeed, prisoners rate the death penalty as the most feared punishment, much more so than life without parole. Sehba, L. & Nathan, G., "Further Explorations in the Scale of Penalties", British Journal of Criminology, 24:221-249, 1984.
12) Opponents proclaim that the death penalty is a barbaric act so dreadful in its implications that we can hardly bear to contemplate the horrors of its terrible character. On the other hand, they also assert that potential murderers, when confronted with the horrors of execution, will not be deterred by its infliction upon them. That proposition is, of course, absurd on the face of it (Revised from M. Stanton Evans, Clear and Present Danger).
13) Assume all murderers would instantly die upon murdering. Murderers would then kill only if they wished to die themselves. Murder/suicide is an extremely small component of all murders. Therefore, if a swift and sure death penalty was universally applied to our worst criminals, it is logically conclusive that the death penalty would be a significant deterrent and that many innocent lives would be saved. In fact, swift and sure executions do result in deterrence: (A) The greater the publicity surrounding executions, the greater the deterrent effect. Phillips, D. "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment". American Journal of Sociology, 86;139-158, 1980: Philipps, D. & Hensley, J., "When Violence is Rewarded or Punished". J. Commun., 34(3); 101-116, 1984; and the various studies by Prof. Steven Stack, Wayne St. U.(1988-1995) and (B) The higher the rate of execution, the greater the deterrent effect. Lester, D. "Executions As A Deterrent To Homicide", 44:562,1979a and "Deterring Effect of Executions on Murder as a Function of Number and Proportion of Executions", 45:598, 1979b, both from Psychol. Rep. and Wasserman, L.: "Non-deterrent Effect of Executions on Homicide Rates", Psychol. Rep., 58:137-138, 1981. The State of Delaware has the highest execution rate per capita and low homicide rates.
14) The individual deterrent effect is proven by many, perhaps thousands, of individual, fully documented cases where criminals have admitted that the death penalty was the specific threat which deterred them and/or others from committing murder. Indeed, one study showed that criminals, by a 5:1 ratio, believed that capital punishment was a significant enough deterrent to prevent them and/or others from murdering their victims (People vs Love, 56 Cal 2d 720 (1961), McComb, J. dissenting. see also: (A) "Controversy Over Capital Punishment", Congressional Digest, Jan.,73, p. 13; (B) L.A.P.D. study within Aikens vs Ca., No. 68-5027, Oct. Term, 1971, U.S. Supreme Court; ( C ) Carol Vance, "The Death Penalty After Furman", The Prosecutor, vol. 9, no. 4 (1973), p. 703; (D) Carrington, F., Neither Cruel Nor Unusual, Pgs. 92-100(1978); (E) Don Hooloschultz, "Gunman Slain, Hostages O.K.", Washington Star News, 8/23/73, p.A-1; (F) Jim Landers, "4 Guilty in Holdup Sentence", Washington Post, 12/8/73,p.B-1; (G) Larry Derryberry, "It Is The Fear That Death May Be The Punishment That Deters", Police Digest, Spring/Summer 1973, p.27, col.2. ; (H) "Langley says Texas death penalty affected his actions during escape", by Stephen Martin, The Daily Democrat (Ft. Madison, Iowa), 1/8/97, pg 1. Indeed, prisoners rate the death penalty as a much more severe penalty than they do life without parole (B.12).While it is difficult to prove a negative, i.e. "How many murders does the death penalty cause not to occur?", there is absolute evidence that the individual deterrent effect of executions saves innocent lives. Extensive worldwide research on individual deterrence would, undoubtedly, reveal significant general deterrent effect..
15) Regarding the deterrent affect of the death penalty, poet Hyam Barshay made the following observation, "The death penalty is a warning, just like a lighthouse throwing beams out to sea. We hear about shipwrecks, but we do not hear about the ships the lighthouse guides safely on their way. We do not have proof of the number of ships it saves, but we do not tear the lighthouse down." Prof. Ernest van den Haag, "On Deterrence and The Death Penalty", Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology and Police Science, vol. 60, no.2 (1969).
16) 30 years of studies suggest that the death penalty is a general, or systemic, deterrent. (See works by Profs. D. Cloninger, S. Cameron, I. Ehrlich, W. Bailey, D. Lester, S. Layson, K. I. Wolpin, L. Phillips, S. C. Ray, S. Stack, etc.) Examples: a) A 1967-68 study revealed 27 states showed a deterrent effect (Bailey, W.,1974); b) The 1960's showed a rapid rise in all crimes, including murder, while both prison terms and executions declined (Passell, P. & Taylor, T., 1977; Bowers, W. & Pierce, G., 1975); c) Murder increased 100% during the U.S.s moratorium on executions (Carrington, F., Neither Cruel Nor Unusual); d) 14 nations that abolished the death penalty showed that murder rates increased 7% from the 5 year pre-abolition period to the 5 year post abolition period (Archer, et al, 1977); e) A 37 state study showed that 24 states showed a deterrent effect, 8 states showed a brutalization effect and 5 states showed no effect (Bailey, W., 1979-80); and f) econometric studies indicate that each execution may deter 8 or more murders ( Cameron, S., 1994). Although these studies have been produced by respected social scientists, there are also studies which show no general deterrent effect. Indeed, with the complexity of these studies and with the number of variables required to accurately measure the general deterrent effect of executions on murder rates, it is arguable if there ever will be a statistical consensus with general deterrence studies. With so few executions and so many murders, the general deterrent effect may remain statistically elusive. However, it is that very inconclusive nature of general deterrence which provides the two reasons which require executions. First, we must choose to use executions because they may save innocent life. Whereas, if we choose not to use executions and there is a general deterrent effect, we would be sacrificing innocent lives. Therefore, a moral imperative exists to choose executions (see B. 9). Secondly, the individual deterrent effect would not exist but for the presence of general deterrence. And because the individual deterrent effect is proven and cannot be contradicted, we know that the general deterrent effect must exist, even though its existence may remain inconclusive by statistical analysis.
17) Opponents state that if the death penalty was a deterrent then states that have the death penalty would have a reduced homicide rate. Delaware, which executes more murderers per capita than any other state in the U.S.A., also has low homicide rates. Furthermore, general or systemic deterrence is not necessarily measured by low or reduced homicide rates, but by rates that are lower than they otherwise would be if the death penalty was not present. Additionally, some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, have swift and sure executions and very low violent crime rates. It is not surprising that the U.S., which has executed only 0.06% of its murderers since 1967, does not overtly show a general deterrent effect. While most in the U.S. would not advocate criminal justice systems like that of Saudi Arabia, it is also very clear that the American criminal justice system fosters the additional slaughter of its own innocent citizens.
18) The highest murder rate in Houston (Harris County), Texas occurred in 1981, with 701 murders. Texas resumed executions in 1982. Since that time, Houston (Harris County) has executed more murderers than any other city or state (except Texas) AND has seen the greatest reduction in murder, 701 in 1981 down to 261 in 1996 - a 63% reduction, representing a 270% differential! (FBI, UCR, 1982 & Houston Chronicle, 2/1/97, pg. 31A).
Edited by - thichi on 23 August 2002 11:46:53
Edited by - thichi on 23 August 2002 11:55:5
Edited by - thichi on 23 August 2002 12:0:27