Death Penalty Act as a Term Paper

  • Length: 7 pages
  • Subject: Criminal Justice
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #92239087

Excerpt from Term Paper :

However, the numbers used to report murder rates only tell us the number of crimes that have occurred. They tell us nothing about crimes that were never committed because of fear of the death penalty. The conundrum is that there is no realistic way to measure something that did not happen in the general population, at least in a way that would be credible from a scientific point-of-view.

Those that support the death penalty tend to place more emphasis on the credibility of econometric methods of analysis. They can find many studies to support their position among this group of analyses. They discredit comparative methods of study that do not support their position. Both proponents and their opposition have attempted to reduce the issue of whether the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder to one of credibility of the research findings. However, this argument fails, as there are flaws in all of the methodologies used to study the issue to date. In some cases, it would appear that the death penalty actually increases the murder rate, as we saw in the South. Many of the studies found during the course of this research suffered from attempting to make inferences and draw causal relationships, when in fact, there were too many variables unaccounted for. They are inconclusive at best, therefore cannot tell us anything about the connection between the death penalty and trends in murder rates.

This finding would appear to place our original research question in jeopardy. However, this is only true if one tends to fall into the credibility trap. Some studies may be more credible than others. However, this still does not mean that they provide us with an authoritative answer to our question. There is simply too much conflicting evidence to decide whether the death penalty does or does not deter crime. Those that support the death penalty do so based on a selective number of research studies that claim a causal connection between drops in crime rates and the practice of the death penalty. However, as we discovered, many of these studies were flawed due to the inability to isolate the dependent variable. This does not mean that they are inaccurate, it simply means that they are inconclusive. Proponents of the death penalty cannot definitively prove that it deters crime.

On the other hand, opponents cannot disprove a causal relationship either. However, the burden of proof is not upon them. If they can discredit the argument of the other side by presenting conflicting results and inconclusive evidence, then their argument is supported by default. The original research question was whether the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder. If one considers the lack of positive proof, then the answer would have to favor those that say it does not. Therefore, one could support the position that due to a lack of substantial evidence that the death penalty deters crime, the practice of the death penalty must be reconsidered in support of less severe punishment. Those that oppose the death penalty do so based on a lack of evidence that it deters crime. This argument is logical, even in light of lack of evidence to the contrary.

Works Cited

Archer, D. And Gartner, R (1984). Homicide and the death penalty: A cross-national test of deterrence hypothesis. In Archer and Gartner, Violence and Crime in Cross-

National Perspective, New Haven: Yale University Press.

Dezhbaksh, H., Robin, P., and Shepherd, J. (2002). Does capital punishment have a Deterrent effect? New evidence from post-moratorium panel data. American Law and Economics Review 5(2): 344-376.Retrieved February 5, 2007, from: http://aler.oupjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/5/2/344.

Fagan, J. (2005). Deterrence and the Death Penalty: A Critical Review of New Evidence.

Testimony to the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Codes.

Columbia Law School. January 21, 2005. Retrieved February 4, 2007 at http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/FaganTestimony.pdf

FBI (2003) Uniform Crime Reports. Released June 16, 2003. Retrieved February 5, 2007 from http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_02/02prelimannual.pdf.

Fessenden, F. (2000). Deadly statistics: A survey of crime and punishment. The New York

Times September 22, 2000.

Goertzel, T. (2004). Capital Punishment and Homicide: Sociological Realities and Econometric Illusions. July 2004. Skeptical Enquirer.

Mocan, N. And Gittings, K. (2001). Pardons, executions and homicide. Working Paper

8639, National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved February 5, 2007, from www.nber.org/papers/w8639.

Pataki, G. (1997). Capital punishment gives killers good cause to fear arrest and conviction. USA Today - March 1997. Retrieved February 4, 2007 at http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/Articles/Pataki.htm

Sellin, T. (1959). The Death Penalty. American Law Institute, Philadelphia.

Sorenson, J., Wrinkle, R., Brewer, V., and Marquart, J. (1999). Capital Punishment and Deterrence: Examining the Effect of Executions on Murder in Texas. Crime and Delinquency. 45: 481-493.

US Bureau of Justice Statistics (2003). Criminal Victimization, 2003. Retrieved February 4, 2007 at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/cv03.htm.

Pataki, G. (1997). Capital punishment gives killers good cause to fear arrest and conviction. USA Today - March 1997. Retrieved February 4, 2007 at http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/Articles/Pataki.htm.

Fagan, J. (2005). Deterrence and the Death Penalty: A Critical Review of New Evidence. Testimony to the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Codes. Columbia Law School. January 21, 2005. Retrieved February 4, 2007 at http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/FaganTestimony.pdf.

US Bureau of Justice Statistics (2003). Criminal Victimization, 2003. Retrieved February 4, 2007 at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/cv03.htm.

Goertzel, T. (2004). Capital Punishment and Homicide: Sociological Realities and Econometric Illusions. July 2004. Skeptical Enquirer.

Sellin, T. (1959). The Death Penalty. American Law Institute, Philadelphia.

Goertzel. Op. cit.

Archer, D. And Gartner, R (1984). Homicide and the death penalty: A cross-national test of a deterrence hypothesis. In Archer and Gartner, Violence and Crime in Cross-National Perspective, New Haven: Yale University Press.

Goertzel. Op. cit.

Mocan, N. And Gittings, K. (2001). Pardons, executions and homicide. Working Paper 8639, National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved February 5, 2007, from: www.nber.org/papers/w8639.and Dezhbaksh, H., Robin, P., and Shepherd, J. (2002). Does capital punishment have a deterrent effect? New evidence from post-moratorium panel data. American Law and Economics Review 5(2): 344-376.Retrieved February 5, 2007, at http://aler.oupjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/5/2/344.

FBI (2003) Uniform Crime Reports. Released June 16, 2003. Retrieved February 5, 2007 at http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_02/02prelimannual.pdf.

Sorenson, J., Wrinkle, R., Brewer, V., and Marquart, J. (1999). Capital Punishment and Deterrence: Examining the Effect of Executions on Murder in…

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