Experts Can't Figure Out If Death Penalty Deters Murder
Existing studies are flawed, and shouldn't be considered: committee
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2012 7:17 AM CDT
This undated photo provided by the Virginia Department of Corrections shows an electric chair.   (AP Photo/Virginia Department of Corrections)

(Newser) – Ohio executed one death-row inmate yesterday and has 11 executions on the books over the next 20 months. The AP notes that could once again make the state one of the country's busiest executioners. So is all that capital punishment deterring murders there? Who knows? That's basically the finding of experts brought together to research the question on behalf of the National Research Council. NPR reports that they considered only the science, not the morality, of the death penalty, by reviewing dozens of studies on the topic.

The committee uncovered flaw after flaw in the studies, leading it to determine that those studies should not be used to guide lawmakers. Among the issues it uncovered: The studies didn't consider how punishments like life in prison may alter the homicide rate. They also assumed that murderers are able to determine their risk of execution; "in reality, this is very difficult to do," said the committee's chair. The report, released yesterday, does say better studies can be designed—with difficulty.

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Showing 3 of 132 comments
Apr 21, 2012 12:33 AM CDT
You know what? It's not about deterrence at all - it's about justice. I don't care if it deters other murders or not. Anyone who takes another person's life deserve to die, period.
Apr 19, 2012 9:38 PM CDT
Psychopaths aren't deterred by punishment, others were dead before going to prison.
Apr 19, 2012 4:08 PM CDT
In the studies done years ago has little to do by the Menninger Institute it was determined that the death penalty had little effect on murders..given what we know about the brain and behavior today it would seem that the death penalty has little impact in preventing the killing of one another.