Death penalty study

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Death penalty study

Postby mdkilmer » Sun Jun 10, 2007 9:12 pm

Studies say death penalty deters crime

By ROBERT TANNER, AP National Writer 10 minutes ago

Anti-death penalty forces have gained momentum in the past few years, with a moratorium in Illinois, court disputes over lethal injection in more than a half-dozen states and progress toward outright abolishment in New Jersey.
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The steady drumbeat of DNA exonerations — pointing out flaws in the justice system — has weighed against capital punishment. The moral opposition is loud, too, echoed in Europe and the rest of the industrialized world, where all but a few countries banned executions years ago.

What gets little notice, however, is a series of academic studies over the last half-dozen years that claim to settle a once hotly debated argument — whether the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder. The analyses say yes. They count between three and 18 lives that would be saved by the execution of each convicted killer.

The reports have horrified death penalty opponents and several scientists, who vigorously question the data and its implications.

So far, the studies have had little impact on public policy. New Jersey's commission on the death penalty this year dismissed the body of knowledge on deterrence as "inconclusive."

But the ferocious argument in academic circles could eventually spread to a wider audience, as it has in the past.

"Science does really draw a conclusion. It did. There is no question about it," said Naci Mocan, an economics professor at the University of Colorado at Denver. "The conclusion is there is a deterrent effect."

A 2003 study he co-authored, and a 2006 study that re-examined the data, found that each execution results in five fewer homicides, and commuting a death sentence means five more homicides. "The results are robust, they don't really go away," he said. "I oppose the death penalty. But my results show that the death penalty (deters) — what am I going to do, hide them?"

Statistical studies like his are among a dozen papers since 2001 that capital punishment has deterrent effects. They all explore the same basic theory — if the cost of something (be it the purchase of an apple or the act of killing someone) becomes too high, people will change their behavior (forego apples or shy from murder).

To explore the question, they look at executions and homicides, by year and by state or county, trying to tease out the impact of the death penalty on homicides by accounting for other factors, such as unemployment data and per capita income, the probabilities of arrest and conviction, and more.

Among the conclusions:

• Each execution deters an average of 18 murders, according to a 2003 nationwide study by professors at Emory University. (Other studies have estimated the deterred murders per execution at three, five and 14).

• The Illinois moratorium on executions in 2000 led to 150 additional homicides over four years following, according to a 2006 study by professors at the University of Houston.

• Speeding up executions would strengthen the deterrent effect. For every 2.75 years cut from time spent on death row, one murder would be prevented, according to a 2004 study by an Emory University professor.

In 2005, there were 16,692 cases of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter nationally. There were 60 executions.

The studies' conclusions drew a philosophical response from a well-known liberal law professor, University of Chicago's Cass Sunstein. A critic of the death penalty, in 2005 he co-authored a paper titled "Is capital punishment morally required?"

"If it's the case that executing murderers prevents the execution of innocents by murderers, then the moral evaluation is not simple," he told The Associated Press. "Abolitionists or others, like me, who are skeptical about the death penalty haven't given adequate consideration to the possibility that innocent life is saved by the death penalty."

Sunstein said that moral questions aside, the data needs more study.

Critics of the findings have been vociferous.

Some claim that the pro-deterrent studies made profound mistakes in their methodology, so their results are untrustworthy. Another critic argues that the studies wrongly count all homicides, rather than just those homicides where a conviction could bring the death penalty. And several argue that there are simply too few executions each year in the United States to make a judgment.

"We just don't have enough data to say anything," said Justin Wolfers, an economist at the Wharton School of Business who last year co-authored a sweeping critique of several studies, and said they were "flimsy" and appeared in "second-tier journals."

"This isn't left vs. right. This is a nerdy statistician saying it's too hard to tell," Wolfers said. "Within the advocacy community and legal scholars who are not as statistically adept, they will tell you it's still an open question. Among the small number of economists at leading universities whose bread and butter is statistical analysis, the argument is finished."

Several authors of the pro-deterrent reports said they welcome criticism in the interests of science, but said their work is being attacked by opponents of capital punishment for their findings, not their flaws.

"Instead of people sitting down and saying 'let's see what the data shows,' it's people sitting down and saying 'let's show this is wrong,'" said Paul Rubin, an economist and co-author of an Emory University study. "Some scientists are out seeking the truth, and some of them have a position they would like to defend."

The latest arguments replay a 1970s debate that had an impact far beyond academic circles.

Then, economist Isaac Ehrlich had also concluded that executions deterred future crimes. His 1975 report was the subject of mainstream news articles and public debate, and was cited in papers before the
U.S. Supreme Court arguing for a reversal of the court's 1972 suspension of executions. (The court, in 1976, reinstated the death penalty.)

Ultimately, a panel was set up by the
National Academy of Sciences which decided that Ehrlich's conclusions were flawed. But the new pro-deterrent studies haven't gotten that kind of scrutiny.

At least not yet. The academic debate, and the larger national argument about the death penalty itself — with questions about racial and economic disparities in its implementation — shows no signs of fading away.

Steven Shavell, a professor of law and economics at Harvard Law School and co-editor-in-chief of the American Law and Economics Review, said in an e-mail exchange that his journal intends to publish several articles on the statistical studies on deterrence in an upcoming issue.
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Postby AJRC_CS » Mon Jun 11, 2007 3:26 am

I wish Capital punishment was brought back into this country. I know that's not very Liberal of me, but hey don't judge a book by it's cover. I think the death penalty should be for murder, rape and any sex crime against children. But does the death penalty deter crime? In my opinion, i don't think so.

The death penalty is a quick fix, a way for the parents of murder victims to have closure, to feel retribution, to see the murderer die. But this will not deter others! You have to remember that a lot of murders happen because of an argument, they happen in the heat of the moment, the murderer is usually known to the victim. So do you honestly think when the red mist descends that the guy is going to stop and think, oh i better not shoot him because i'll get a lethal injection? No, he will shoot the guy he's arguing with and then deal with the consequences after the act.

I remember a while back this same kind of post came up on CS, back then people argued that it was a deterrent and that economists studies said it was that way so they must be right. But others such as myself posted a survey by the US Bureau of Justice that showed that the murder rate was about 5.6 per 100,000 persons, unchanged from the two previous years. Firearms were used in 71% of all murders, 76% of the offenders were known to the victim. The most cited circumstance leading to murder was an argument (28%).

Also as with all things, others held a different view. Most of the people saying that the death penalty is a deterrent are economists, and it has since been shown that they are mostly wrong. You have to remember that this argument is unchanged since the Paul Ehrlich's 1975 paper on the topic, so no matter how new the pro-deterrent study is the same people are still saying the same thing based on a study over 30 years ago. But as was proven then is still viable now, you can't just simplify crime into: X executions prevents Y murders. There are simply to many variables to take into account.

Take last year for example, the FBI released crime figures that showed in 2006 murders in the United States jumped 4.8 percent, and overall violent crime was up 2.5 percent for the year, marking the largest annual increase in crime in the United States since 1991! Is this the new pro-deterrent the economists are talking about?

I'm all for the death penalty for the reasons i stated earlier, but as a deterrent the death penalty is as good at deterring crime as the prison service is.
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Postby van » Fri Jun 15, 2007 9:09 pm

Kia ora Doc

I tend to agree with Andy
One of the arguments against capital punishment is its aplication to various types of crime
In the case of a sex crime for instance, dead people don't talk
Thus if a rape has been committed, killing the victim reduces the chances of a trial, ie no victim/witness
Given the advances in forensic science, that is probably not the case, however people committing these crimes often think that they will get away with it
While in an open and shut case, I have no problem with the death penalty but one also has to consider the ability/reliability of prosecution witnesses
Just this yr, 2 men accused of murder have walked free when flaws in the justice system revealed that not all evidence was presented/made available to the defense
Others who should have received punishment were able to walk free, again due to evidence not being made available to the jurors at the courts direction (as it happened 2 charged with a sex crime were already serving time for a similar offence, yet this evidence was not allowed!)
Examine the following links, and you will note that some countries with the highest per capita murder rates also have the death penalty, showing that certainly in those countries, the death penalty is no deterent
Conversely many countries without the death penalty have less murders per capita
This is not the rule of course

http://ask.yahoo.com/20060802.html
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_m ... per-capita

As far as the implementation of capital punishment is concerned, I can accept it so long as the judicial system likewise is beyond reproach
For instance if evidence is "planted" as has happened here in the past and someone loses their life because of that, then if in the future that is discovered, the person responsible for that, also must pay the ultimate price

The incidence of violent crime is more noticable in countries where the divide between rich and poor is large,corruption is widespead,that perhaps being one reason why their murder rate is so high,ie people in desperation have little to live for

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Postby mdkilmer » Fri Jun 15, 2007 10:46 pm

As for honest judiciary, I'd like to see the lawyer who got the killer off and the presiding judge be held accountable along with the "suspect" if he kills again.

I'd also like judges to be judges instead of mediators They shouldn't be allowed to know how similar cases were decided in the past and let previous rulings influence their decision on a particular case.

Perhaps some such draconian measures would help keep them honest.
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Postby van » Sat Jun 16, 2007 2:20 am

Kia ora Doc

They shouldn't be allowed to know how similar cases were decided in the past and let previous rulings influence their decision on a particular case.


Are you suggesting that convictions against a serial rapist/killer should not be permitted in evidence in a current case?

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Postby mdkilmer » Sat Jun 16, 2007 6:13 am

No.

Often sentences are decided by sentences imposed on similar convictions in the past.

Something along the line of "In the past 10 years, most serial killers who committed that particular action during their crime got their sentence suspended because that action shows that their fathers mentally abused them. Since this particular killer did the same thing, then obviously his sentence should be suspended, too."

It's another instance of judges not being able (or willing) to judge each case on its own merits.
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Postby Silke » Sat Jun 16, 2007 11:32 am

I´m not for death-penalty at all. There are loads of those convicted who isn´t responsible, so who are we to kill them? turn into murderes ourself? No. If someone raped, mutelated and killed my sister and mother, I would not see them killed. Life-penalty as in never get out again, sure, but not death penalty.

As to detering like crimes. In Sweeden (along time ago, about same time as the witch hunt was on) they inforced public burning of people having sex with animals. Result? the crime rate on that area exploded. After some years they changed their minds, no more public execution. The crimerate for that offence dropped not long after. Public execution deters indeed.
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Postby meadow » Sat Jun 16, 2007 1:04 pm

there is no f'ing way in the world i would EVER let someone who killed anyone in my family not DIE the way they should!

and btw, most people who claim 'innocence' from crimes isn't really true. obviously, it's such a small percentage of real crime! and most aren't on death row either!!!

i'm all for the death penalty. if you've had a proper, fair trial and all your pointless [in my opinion] appeals have run out? you deserve death! but only if you're a murderer, rapist, pedophile and serial killers! people who commit crimes like that then they shouldn't be allowed to have the one thing they denied their victims: life.

especially people who rape and kill children. i'm sorry but there is nothing that would make me change my mind against them being put to death. they deserve to come to their Karma as fast as possible!
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Postby AJRC_CS » Sat Jun 16, 2007 1:31 pm

Silke, life imprisonment doesn't necessarily mean life. If murderers were put away for the rest of their lives then there would be no problem, but some murderers get out after 10 years. How is that punishment for taking away someone's entire life?

As i said i wish my country had the death penalty, i really do. But at the end of the day it's not and never will be a deterrent. Are criminals put off from crime because of the thought of prison? No! As Van said criminals don't think of the consequences because they believe they'll never be caught, so the death penalty and prison terms will never be a deterrent, they will only ever be the punishment after the crime has been committed.
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Postby van » Sun Jun 17, 2007 2:28 am

Kia ora

Just had another gander at the 2nd link I posted
Examination will show that the likes of Malaysia, Indonesia have a much lower murder rate per capita then could perhaps be expected
Granted, both have the death penalty I think, but the most important thing might be the fact that they have corporal punishment
Get arrested for even some minor crime, and they beat the bejesus outa you with 6ft canes!
Perhaps that might be a reason for their lower rates?
"No pain, no gain"?
I recall that when NZ had corporal punishment in schools, the prospect of getting "6 of the best" had a definite effect on the behaviour of most, teaching the reality of "cause and effect"!

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Postby Silke » Sun Jun 17, 2007 2:30 am

Silke, life imprisonment doesn't necessarily mean life. If murderers were put away for the rest of their lives then there would be no problem, but some murderers get out after 10 years. How is that punishment for taking away someone's entire life?


I know that, I´m sure Norway has the lowest penalties on many crimes world wide. "Our" "life sentace" is 21 years, but no one stays in that long. In theory, if you kill one person here you are free to kill as many as you want, rob a few banks and you wouldn´t get a higher sentntence anyway because they aren´t added together. you get one sentence, including all crimes done. When I say life-time, I mean until the end of that persons natural lifespan. Call me cruel, but I don´t think death-penalty is hard enugh.

On the other hand, the leagal system can sometimes be corrupt, and I wouldn´t put that kind of eas to get ridd of problems kind of power to them. As an example here we had a man convicted of beein a serial killer and rapist. This man had lost one arm, was deaf and mentally retarded. Only one of the killings were he present, but they changed the date of the other to fit. This one-handed, deaf-from-birth man was supposed to hold down two girls in their prime, two of those trained regulary, rape them and kill them. In addision when under one of these crimes he was supposedly puking and someone asked him if he needed help (from behind mind you) he would answer with a dialect! no, he was fine. Wrongly convicted? yes. After years he got off one of the killings, then he died. Some years back a dying man confessed to both murders and accounted for all that had happend there. A fit sailor at the time, hearing, with both arms intact, and not so mentaly retarded that he belived anything the police said as law... Deathpenalty? not unless the judge, jury , trial and evidance is spotless and uncorruptelbe. If so, sure - go ahead! but the system isn´t perfect, and better ten guilty go free, than one inocent man locked up. Better they are locked up for life, because killing them can´t be mended if a error has occured.
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Postby meadow » Sun Jun 17, 2007 8:27 am

the occasions of the wrong man going to life in prison for crimes he didn't commit is very small.

i'm not for capital punishment for people who rob banks, beat the crap out of old ladies [but i'm all for a Louisville Slugger aimed at their crotches a few times. ahem.] or commit smaller felonies. especially ones where no one gets physically hurt like "white collar crime" like bank fraud. but they should totally have to do their time, hard. that means no special treatment!

i think our prisons are way too easy in some senses and too hard in others. they let the mob rule and they don't protect the ones who need it from the ones who are horrifying monsters.

and i think the ones who don't commit capital crimes should have to do all kinds of roadside work, clean up parks and sidewalks and use whatever skills they might have to build housing for poor and homeless people. they could get real, hands-on training at the same time.
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Postby pilvikki » Sun Jun 17, 2007 10:29 am

we have had talk of this damn case of torture/sex murders of two school girls going on forever.

the woman got off lightly [well, 10 yrs or something] because she testified against her husband. then it turns out that she was happily participating and they actually started off with her sister! there was a video made of their exploits but the lawyer kept it hidden until the deal with her had been worked out.

like wtf!

in those cases... who needs them? now she's free to go out and murder again, i think they've declaired him as a dangerous offender and can keep stashed for life.

waste of oxygen, the pair of them.

i'd have to be 100% sure that i have the right person, but in a case like the videos, which show them both taking delight in the girl's torture, what else do you need?

btw. the videos have been destroyed and some guy had the audacity to say that they were public domain and should be available to anyone. ok, there's another sicko we should be watching.
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Postby Silke » Sun Jun 17, 2007 11:25 am

With video evidence and in cases where there are no other (however slight) posibility, sure. In most cases however, there isn´t anything <i>that</i> concusive.

what I can´t belive is that you get only maximum 6 or so years for sexual crimes here (because they are hard to prove beond doupt). wtf???

Still, live forever in jail. Let them have acsess to a rope of convinient length and a hook in the roof, and if they are nice they will revieal society of the economical burden of keeping them alive.


...and for cutting deals? No. Just as admittance doesn´t take away guilt and it doesn´t imprint regrettance of the deed done.
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Postby van » Sun Jun 17, 2007 3:40 pm

Kia ora Meadow

the occasions of the wrong man going to life in prison for crimes he didn't commit is very small.


True, but then again many, guilty as sin, get to walk, either due to to their wellheeled connections or expensive lawyer!!!

i'm not for capital punishment for people who rob banks, beat the crap out of old ladies


Anyone who beats the crap out of old ladies deserves to be thrashed to within an inch of their lives at the very least!!!! And I for one would be happy to oblige!!

and i think the ones who don't commit capital crimes should have to do all kinds of roadside work, clean up parks and sidewalks and use whatever skills they might have to build housing for poor and homeless people. they could get real, hands-on training at the same time.


Doesn't work, leastways not here in NZ!
In my neck of the woods there are people walking free owing 1000's in fines with no intention of paying them
When they come before the courts, the judge will offer them 100hrs community work and wipe off $7000, ie a rate of $70 hr!
Even then they more often then not don't turn up to work
If on the otherhand the option existed to wipe debt via one whack with the cane per $100, I for one and am sure many others, would be more then happy!
Can you pay off your mortgage at community work @ $70-100 per hr?

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Postby van » Sun Jun 17, 2007 4:10 pm

Kia ora Marjaana

We have, and you also may have, strict guidelines when it comes to video evidence
Around our town, video cameras are used by the cops
They can present this in evidence in court, as the areas under surveillance have been posted with signs "This area is under video surveillance"
We had a case where a couple were watching someone trying to break into their car
One phoned the cops, the other took a video of the crime in progress
During the trial, that evidence was thrown out by the court as they did not have a sign denoting video surveillance!!!

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Postby meadow » Mon Jun 18, 2007 9:05 am

oh, i own a LS and i've used it. *ahem* i have no qualms about busting someone upside their head if i feel they deserve it. yeah, i said it. and i mean it.

and i'm all about justice being served to those that deserve it. period. if yo u commit a hard crime? you should be ready to do the damn time! if i do something i know is illegal and i can get caught? i take the risk i'll end up in the damn pokey as fish food! it's about personal responsibility. something we don't teach people in this society any longer.

and don't even get me started on the rich ass mo'fo's who get off because of money, connections and power. let's just say that i'm glad i believe in Karma.

i know that roadside work is a pipe dream. i have no illusions about my world and the people who live in it. which is why i have no problem defending myself or the people i love and care about it.

oh and pilvikki: i've heard about that case. *barf* disgusting! people like that deserve the LS more than anyone else.
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Postby Valleysailor » Wed Jun 20, 2007 12:41 pm

The death penalty may not be effective in reducing crime but it works wonders on the recidivism rate for repeat offenders.
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Postby StVandal » Fri Jun 22, 2007 4:04 pm

Valleysailor wrote:The death penalty may not be effective in reducing crime but it works wonders on the recidivism rate for repeat offenders.

Exactly!
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