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Does the death penalty reduce crime?

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jdmiller516 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 26, 2009 at 5:55 PM via web

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Does the death penalty reduce crime?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 26, 2009 at 6:02 PM (Answer #2)

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That is a question that is impossible to answer. I'll explain why by giving you one fact and then discussing what it means.

The fact is (see link) that the South has more executions but also a higher murder rate than the rest of the country.

So what does that mean?

Does it mean that the death penalty doesn't reduce the rate of murders? Not necessarily. We don't know (because we can't do an experiment) what the murder rate in the South would be if there were no death penalty.

Now, do other regions have fewer murders because they don't have the death penalty? No way to know. There may be other factors that impact the murder rate.

So the problem with this question is that there's no way to know, no numbers that we could look at to tell us whether it works.

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kemdanie | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 26, 2009 at 7:54 PM (Answer #3)

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The death penalty is often employed as a way to deter crime; a would-be criminal may see the consequence as too severe and not commit a crime worthy of capital punishment.  Many consider this a valid argument, and it is often cited as a justification for capital punishment (see http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/Articles/Pataki.htm).

On the other hand, many dismiss this argument as ludicrous.  They cite the high murder rates in places like Texas as proof that the death penalty does not, in fact, deter crime.

There are of course many factors to consider, such as poverty, drugs, gangs, and even the rise of suburbia as reasons for an increase or reduction in crime rates, and one cannot simply point to one factor as the key to reducing crime.

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted October 26, 2009 at 8:00 PM (Answer #4)

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The need for and effectiveness of death penalty in controlling and reducing crimes has been the subject of many public debates, and many studies have been conducted to establish the impact of death penalty on incidence of crime. But as the situation stands today there are no conclusive evidences provided by such studies one way or the other, and politicians and social activists have not been able to reach any agreement on this issue. However there is a gradual move worldwide away from giving death penalty. May countries including India that have provision of death penalty have cut down the use of this drastic punishment to almost negligible levels.

My personal opinion is that some limited and cautious use of death penalty is definitely useful in controlling crime. I believe that death penalty may not be much of a deterrent for hardened criminals, but it does discourage ordinary people from committing desperate acts of crime and from adopting criminal ways of life. This definitely helps to put some checks on rise of crime.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 1, 2009 at 7:46 PM (Answer #5)

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I doubt that there are any relevant statistics that could answer this question. Although I am in favor of continuing the death penalty, NO, I do not believe that it helps to reduce or deter crime. However, if the death penalty was imposed for less severe crimes than murder or child rape (as is done in other countries around the world), then it might have an effect on reducing the more minor offenses.

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ily12 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 8, 2010 at 12:10 PM (Answer #6)

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This question could go both ways it increases and decreases the rate of murders. Religion is a matter of the judge that the convict is put against. Due to its background of belief! Its cheap to have convent in prison than living out in the world. Lethal or chair is expensive with death penalty cones with law suit and court dates. Revoking case causing money for the gov't. its increasing because population is harsh toward punishment and the people want cruel punishment so the government has to give what the people want. the U.S gov't force is handling death rate is more serious now than before.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 24, 2010 at 3:48 PM (Answer #7)

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There are many studies on this topic as well as mountains of data that for the most part shows no proven link between the death penalty and a reduction in crime rates.  In fact, in most of the states with a legal form of capital punishment, the crime rate has actually risen in terms of violent crime.

The thing is, deterrence only works with people who have a relatively intact conscience.  People who commit violent crimes have lost that portion of their conscience, and do not respond to the same legal deterrents that normal people do.

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thinker5095 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 23, 2011 at 5:19 AM (Answer #8)

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Well firstly criminals such as drug users and serial killers would still commit these crimes just under the risk of getting a death penalty as they have already lost their sense of morality.

And secondly CP is only used for crimes which are considered as inhumane but what about the smaller offences which are caused through unfortunate circumstances like poverty? You can't use CP as a solution to resolve stealing or minor harrassments as it would only cause a rebellion towards both the government and system.

Well this is just my opinion and isn't necessarily right.

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