CLAJ_image
DBASSE_bottom_image
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 
Top Image Display(is skipping to image description)

   CLAJ - TOPICS

Adjudication: Courts and Sentencing

Corrections: Incarceration and Supervision

Crime: Causes, Trends, and Prevention

Delinquency: Prevention, Intervention, and Justice

Domestic and Personal Security: Terrorism and Cyber Security

Evaluation: Programs and Policies

Investigation and Enforcement: Policing, Forensics, and Regulations

Research: Data and Measurement

Victims: Vulnerable Populations and Family Violence

Deterrence and the Death Penalty (2012)
   

Deterrence_cover

 

Report

 

Report Brief

 

Many studies of the past few decades have sought to determine whether the death penalty has any deterrent effect on homicide rates.  Researchers have reached widely varying, even contradictory, conclusions.  Against this backdrop, the committee was asked to assess whether the available evidence provides a scientific basis for answering questions of if and how the death penalty affects homicide rates.

 

Deterrence is only one of many considerations relevant to deciding whether the death penalty is good public policy.  Not all supporters of capital punishment base their argument on deterrent effects, and not all opponents would be affected by persuasive evidence of such effects.  The case for capital punishment is sometimes based on arguments that the death penalty is the only appropriate response to especially heinous crimes; the case against it is sometimes based on claims that the sanctity of human life precludes state-sanctioned killings.

 

The report does not consider these issues, nor does it render an overall judgement on whether capital punishment is good public policy.  It only assess the scientific quality of the evidence on whether capital punishment deters homicides and recommends ways to improve the quality of future research.  

 

The report concludes that research to date is not informative about whether capital punishment decreases, increases, or has no effect on homicide rates. 

 


Committee on Deterrence and the Death Penalty

 

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.

 

Sponsor
National Institute of Justice
Proteus Action Fund
Tides Foundation

Publication
 

Committee Membership
DANIEL S. NAGIN (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

 

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

   
   
   

 

The National Academies