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Death Or Life Essay

1645 words - 7 pages

Economics “A Matter of Death and life”

An established death penalty law dates as far back at the 18th Century B.C. in the Code of King Hammarubi (Death Penalty Information Center). Through the history of world, the death penalty has continued in various forms and was applicable to a variety of crimes depending on the country. When the first settlers came to the United States, they also brought along their practice of capital punishment. Rules for the death penalty for the new nation varied from colony to colony. Since the early years of our nation, much has changed but the death penalty still remains. Americans overwhelmingly support the use of capital punishment. In a 2006 Gallup ...view middle of the document...

People will rationally think about the crime before doing it and look at the benefits and costs of it. What is the evidence for this viewpoint? Gittings and Mochan (2003) reviewed crime statistics and death penalty executions between the years of 1977 and 1997. They also took into consideration commuted sentences as well on crime. During 1977-1997, 432 convicted killers were executed while 123 were pardoned, either through a grant of clemency or a commutation of their sentence. The researchers combined this data with detailed information from each state where the murders occurred. Those variables included the state's per-capita income, unemployment rate, percentage of young adults in the population, racial composition, infant mortality rate, proportion of residents who live in large cities, and even per-capita alcohol consumption - all factors known to be associated with homicide rates. The researchers concluded that each execution reduces homicides by 5 to 6. They also found that each pardon increased homicides by 1. I am not clear how the authors reached the conclusion that executions reduce homicides and pardons increase homicides. So the years that there were pardons, were there no executions? If not, then how can we conclude that one led to the other? Are the deterrent effects of executions long term?
Nonetheless, as much as this study supposedly provides evidence for the death penalty as a deterrent, there are many more studies that have found just the opposite. The previous study provided some short term results while researcher Ernie Thompson (1999) studied long term results. This study employed a before-and-after analysis to examine the short and long term effects of executions on different types of homicides in Los Angeles, California. The results showed that homicides increased long term with a higher rate of executions. Another piece of the evidence that the death penalty does not deter capital crimes is right across the border to the north of us. In 1976, Canada abolished the death penalty. The homicide rate in Canada did not increase after abolition of the death penalty in 1976. In fact, the Canadian murder rate declined slightly the following year (Amnesty International, 2010). Over the 20 years since the abolishment of the death penalty in Canada, the homicide rate fluctuated with a definite trend downward (Amnesty International, 2010). Amnesty International (2010) reports that homicide rates in Canada hit a record low in 1995 which was one third less homicides than the year before the death penalty was abolished. Both of theses pieces of research clearly indicate that the death penalty does not deter crime.
Another argument made by death penalty supporters is that we save money by executing people instead of keeping them incarcerated for their life. On face value, this sounds like a good logical argument. Let’s look at what the facts tell us. The Commission on Fair Administration of Justice (2008) reported...

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