The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ) recently completed a study of the effect of executions on homicide rates and found that both states that execute many people and states that execute no one show the biggest decline in homicides (34% and 36% declines, respectively). States that execute few people have the least decline (24%) in homicides. According to the study, “This peculiar result suggests the death penalty is irrelevant to homicide.” The study looked at the effect of the 1,051 legal executions on the 446,457 homicides in the 50 states and D.C. during the 1984-2006 period.

If there were a true deterrent effect, the CJCJ argues, then even the states that execute a few people would have a stronger decline in homicides than those that execute no one. Instead, the data shows that the homicide rates in states such as Texas, which leads the nation in executions, and in non-execution states such as New York, show the biggest declines. This pattern, “strongly argue[s] death penalty and homicide rates are unrelated.”

(“Death Penalty and Deterrence: The Last Word,” by Mike Males, PhD, Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, April 2008). Posted on April 14, 2008. See Deterrence and Studies.