NEW VOICES: Retired Police Captain Says Repealing Death Penalty Is "Smart on Crime"

Jim Davidsaver, a retired police captain with over 25 years experience in the Lincoln (Nebraska) Police Department, recently advocated for repeal of the state's death penalty from a law enforcement perspective. In an op-ed in the Lincoln Journal-Star, Davidsaver said, "[M]y professional experience has shown me that our state’s death penalty doesn’t keep us any safer. Its exorbitant cost actually detracts from programs that would promote the overall health, safety and welfare of our communities." He highlighted the financial tradeoff between the death penalty and other crime prevention measures: "The millions of dollars we’ve spent on the death penalty would have been much better invested in more police officers, additional resources or training for our current officers." He concluded, "The cheaper, more intelligent alternative for our state is life without the possibility of parole. Repealing the death penalty does not mean we are ‘soft’ on crime. It means we are smart on crime."

Davidsaver also rejected the idea that criminals are deterred by the death penalty: "I have never met a criminal who expected to be caught, or was deterred by the slight possibility he would be sentenced to death instead of spending the rest of his life in prison." He pointed to poll results that show other police officers share his view of the death penalty as ineffective. "A full 99% of the police chiefs said initiatives such as more officers or better lighting in high crime areas would make a more significant contribution than the death penalty in keeping their communities safe."

(J. Davidsaver, "Local View: Repealing death penalty would make us 'smart on crime'," Lincoln Journal-Star, November 24, 2014). See New Voices and Costs. See also DPIC's report,
Smart on Crime: Reconsidering the Death Penalty in a Time of Economic Crisis.