Facts about Deterrence and the Death Penalty
Fighting Crime in the U.S. and Internationally: Is the Death Penalty Necessary? A Conversation Between U.S. and European Law Enforcement
Criminologists' Views on Deterrence: 2008
(see also 1998)
Murder of Children: How the U.S. Compares with Other Countries
News and Developments - Current Year
News and Developments - Previous Years
Criminologists' Views on Deterrence and the Death Penalty
A 2009 survey of the most leading criminologists in the country from found that the overwhelming majority did not believe that the death penalty is a proven deterrent to homicide. Eighty-eight percent of the country’s top criminologists do not believe the death penalty acts as a deterrent to homicide, according to a new study published in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology and authored by Professor Michael Radelet, Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and Traci Lacock, also at Boulder.
Similarly, 87% of the expert criminologists believe that abolition of the death penalty would not have any significant effect on murder rates. In addition, 75% of the respondents agree that “debates about the death penalty distract Congress and state legislatures from focusing on real solutions to crime problems.”
The survey relied on questionnaires completed by the most pre-eminent criminologists in the country, including Fellows in the American Society of Criminology; winners of the American Society of Criminology’s prestigious Southerland Award; and recent presidents of the American Society of Criminology. Respondents were not asked for their personal opinion about the death penalty, but instead to answer on the basis of their understandings of the empirical research.
(M. Radelet and T. Lacock, DO EXECUTIONS LOWER HOMICIDE RATES?: THE VIEWS OF LEADING CRIMINOLOGISTS, 99 Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 489 2009)
To read the study, click here.
U.C. Berkeley School of Law professor Franklin Zimring talks about his article, "How New York Beat Crime," in the August issue of Scientific American. (Broadcast date: 8/9/2011)
DPIC on the Issues Podcast Episode 4: Deterrence
The fourth in a series on death penalty issues (see DPIC podcasts).
It might seem that the prospect of receiving a death sentence would deter would-be murderers from committing such offenses. However, many studies on deterrence and the death penalty do not support this idea, nor does the rate of murders in states with the death penalty. The murder rate in states that do not have the death penalty is consistently lower than in states with the death penalty. The South, which carries out over 80% of the executions in the U. S., has the highest murder rate of the four regions. Read More.
For the downloadable podcast about deterrence, click here (July 9, 2009).
Discussions With DPIC Podcast: Does Capital Punishment Deter Murder?
Death penalty proponents have long asserted that capital punishment advances public safety by deterring murders, and this, they say, is especially true when it comes to protecting police officers. The Death Penalty Information Center recently conducted an analysis of murder data from 1987-2015 to determine whether the numbers support that claim. DPIC Fellow Seth Rose speaks with Executive Director Robert Dunham about the DPIC study and what it tells us about the relationship between murder rates, killings of police officers, and the death penalty.
For the downloadable podcast, click here (Sept. 12, 2017), running time: 21:39.
Criminologists report that the death penalty does not deter murder
A recent study published in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology reported that 88% of the country’s top criminologists surveyed do not believe the death penalty acts as a deterrent to homicide. Eighty-seven percent of them think that the abolition of the death penalty would not have a significant effect on murder rates and 77% believe that “debates about the death penalty distract Congress and state legislatures from focusing on real solutions to crime problems.” (M. Radelet and T. Lacock, DO EXECUTIONS LOWER HOMICIDE RATES?: THE VIEWS OF LEADING CRIMINOLOGISTS, 99 Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 489 (2009)). Read More.
For more information, see DPIC's Page on Deterrence.