Law Enforcement Views on Deterrence

In 2009, the Death Penalty Information Center released a report entitled “Smart on Crime: Reconsidering the Death Penalty in a Time of Economic Crisis.” The report combines an analysis of the costs of the death penalty with a national poll of police chiefs who put capital punishment at the bottom of their law enforcement priorities.

The graph above shows the responses of 500 police chiefs in the United States. Police chiefs ranked the death penalty last when asked to name one area as “most important for reducing violent crime.” Higher priorities included increasing the number of police officers, reducing drug abuse, and creating a better economy.

The police chiefs did not believe the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder, and they rated it as one of most inefficient uses of taxpayer dollars in fighting crime.