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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Committee on Law and Justice
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
Committee on Deterrence and the Death Penalty (2012)



Project Scope
This study assessed the evidence on the deterrent effect of the death penalty; i.e. whether the threat of execution prevents homicides. The focus was on studies completed since an earlier National Research Council assessment (Blumstein, Cohen, and Nagin, 1978). A major objective of this study was to evaluate underlying reasons for the differing conclusions in more recent empirical studies about the effects of the legal status and actual practice of the death penalty on criminal homicide rates. The committee developed a report about what can be concluded from these studies and also draw conclusions about the potential for future work to improve upon the quality of existing evidence.


Committee Membership
(Chair), H. John Heinz III College, Carnegie Mellon University
KERWIN K. CHARLES, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, The University of Chicago
PHILIP J. COOK, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University
STEVEN N. DURLAUF, Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison
AMELIA M. HAVILAND, H. John Heinz III College, Carnegie Mellon University
GERARD E. LYNCH, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
CHARLES F. MANSKI, Department of Economics, Northwestern University
JAMES Q. WILSON, School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University, and Clough Center for the Study of
   Constitutional Democracy, Boston College


, Study Director
JOHN V. PEPPER, Consultant
KEIKO ONO, Senior Program Associate
CAROL HAYES, Christine Mirzayan Fellow
BARBARA BOYD, Administrative Associate



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