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Life or Death: Are any punishments effective in deterring homicide?

May 9, 2012 04:18:00 am
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Photo by Alejandra Cuervo, via Flickr

A new report, Deterrence and the Death Penalty, from the Committee on Deterrence and the Death Penalty of the National Research Council, concludes that research to date on the effect of capital punishment on homicide rates is not useful in determining whether the death penalty increases, decreases, or has no effect on these rates.

The key question researchers pursued is whether capital punishment is less or more effective as a deterrent than alternative punishments, such as a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Yet none of the research that has been done accounted for the possible effect of noncapital punishments on homicide rates. The report recommends new avenues of research that may provide broader insight into any deterrent effects from both capital and noncapital punishments.

Access the report here.

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Posted by Donna Carbone
Tuesday, May 15, 2012 01:34

Please clarify for me the difference between the death penalty and life without parole. Until we limit the number of appeals and the length of time allotted to file them, there is no difference between the two sentences. Now, if criminals were allowed only one appeal in the first six months after their conviction and, if upon losing the appeal, the death penalty was carried out immediately, I’m inclined to believe you would see a reduction in the homicide rate.

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