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Pat, why deterrence matters
Fri Jul 2, 2010 09:34

Many wrongly believe that gross murder rates are the manner in which we detect deterrence. It isn't, nor can it be, even though some social scientists and others use that barometer.

For example, there are high, low and medium crime rates in different jurisdictions, throughout the world. Crime rates are constantly fluctuating through decades and centuries, throughout the world.

In all of those jurisdictions, and through all times, there will always be some who are deterred from entering criminal activity, based upon the fear of getting caught and the sanction to follow.

It is the same with the death penalty, as it is with all sanctions.

With the recent 25 USA studies finding for deterrence, they range in the deterrent effect preventing from about 90-900 murders per year, nationwide, or about 0.5%-5% of the total of all murders. For me, that is a huge number of lives saved, yet, it represents a very small fraction of the murder rate.

While no one can rationally or honestly say that the death penalty does not deter some, there will also never be any agreement on the measurement of the degree of that deterrence.

Some say that the burden of proof is with those supporting the deterrence hypothesis. Clearly, it is not. All prospects of a negative outcome deter some.

Obviously, the burden of proof is with those who say that the most sever sanction - execution - is the only negative outcome that deters none. Rationally, as with histories measure, it is a claim that cannot be defended.

Of course the death penalty deters.

The only questions, which will never be answered to anyones satifaction, is "How much does it deter?"

Based upon the recent studies, deterrence has very little effect, but that "little effect" represents saving 90-900 lives per year.

As Prof. Robert Belecker states:

"We support execution as a just and appropriate forfeiture of lives which deserve to be taken. We also support execution as a just and appropriate method to save lives which deserve to be saved. "

Please review:


All prospects of a negative outcome deter some. It is a truism. The death penalty, the most severe of criminal sanctions, is the least likely of all criminal sanctions to violate that truism.

25 recent studies finding for deterrence, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation,

"Deterrence and the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock"

"Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let's be clear"

"The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents"

  • concidence is all it is Petra , well if i was an anti DP advocate id search also for all sorts of hot air to support what i beleive in , but concidence is all it is , a killer doesn't really think... more
    • Pat, why deterrence matters — Dudley Sharp, Fri Jul 2 09:34
      • Deterrence and counterdeterrencePortia, Sun Jun 3 07:26
        The recent study of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in the U.S.A. offers a balanced presentation of the evidence, or often the lack thereof, and rightly finds the results inconclusive as to... more
      • Facts about DeterencePetra, Sat Jul 3 14:31
        DETERRENCE The fourth in a series on death penalty issues (see also DPIC podcasts) It might seem that the prospect of receiving a death sentence would deter would-be murderers from committing such... more
        • Of course the death penalty detersDudley Sharp, Sat Jul 3 14:58
          Reply to the Criminologists "Deterrence and the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock"... more
          • Re: Of course the death penalty detersxkittenx, Mon Jul 5 03:19
            Dudley if it was a deterrent there would be no murders!!I read a survay done amongst police chiefs not that long ago and 78% said the death penalty did not deter offenders some said that they felt... more
            • understanding deterrenceDudley Sharp, Mon Jul 5 07:53
              Kitten, you don't understand deterrence. The foundation for deterrence is that the prospect of a negative outcome will have a conscious or subconscious affect on restraining the behavior that may... more
              • Deterrence and the death penaltyPetra., Thu Apr 26 16:52
       Wednesday, April 25, 2012 | @ 5:24 PM Deterrence and the death penalty by JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN The death penalty: Deters people... more
              • Re: understanding deterrencexkittenx, Tue Jul 6 18:53
                Dudley everyone has there own opinion about the DP and what a fitting sentence is for murder the thing that gets me about you is no matter what inmate is mentioned you insist there guilty there is no ... more
              • Re: understanding deterrencexkittenx, Mon Jul 5 08:54
                Dudley i fully understand that but would LWOP not have same effect?
                • execution vs life - deterrenceDudley Sharp, Mon Jul 5 10:09
                  All negative outcomes have similar effects in deterrence. It is unlikely that any two different prospects of a negative outcome have the exact same deterrent effect. They are different. However, was... more
                  • Re: execution vs life - deterrencexkittenx, Tue Jul 6 17:52
                    Dudley how can u say that LWOP wont have the same effect as execution?Its never been tried and if you ask any inmate who's sentence is LWOP the majority of them would tell you they would rather have... more
                    • Understanding deterrenceDudley Sharp, Wed Jul 7 05:51
                      We know the deterrent effects of execution are different than LWOP. As about, 99.9% of murderers subject to the death penalty fear life more than death and prefer life over death, and as most folks... more
          • Human Rights Facts February 26, 2010 Filip Spagnoli Human Rights Facts (162): The Truth About the Deterrent Effect of the Death Penalty, Ctd. November 7, 2009 Filip Spagnoli Leave a comment Some more ... more
            • Go to Petra's linkDudley Sharp, Sat Jul 3 18:03
              I have corrected as much of the errors as I can. Some of the posts did not appear, though.
              • Re: Go to Petra's linkxkittenx, Mon Jul 5 03:26
                Roflmao what did i tell you Petra Dudley would argue with your figures lol
              • Re: Go to Petra's linkPetra, Sun Jul 4 16:18
                I don’t think that those who believe in deterrence are willing to look.
                • Re: Go to Petra's linkxkittenx, Mon Jul 5 02:51
                  You do no that PRO DP especially Dudley will argue these figures are wrong dont you? lol
            • All rebutted withinDudley Sharp, Sat Jul 3 17:39
              Of course the death penalty deters — Dudley Sharp, Sat Jul 3 14:58
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