Monday, November 05, 2007

A word regarding deterrence

I always found studies about the death penalty and deterrence rather laughable. Think about the typical death penalty case out of Harris County, Texas, which sends more people to death row than any other county.

Maybe you have a younger guy, perhaps in his twenties. Maybe he is addicted to crack cocaine. Maybe he plans a robbery so that he can get drugs or money to buy drugs and something goes terribly awry. He isn't thinking, "Oh, I better not kill -- I might get the death penalty and be executed in eight or ten or twelve years."

No. He's thinking, "How am I gonna get my next fix?"

I mention this because the well-respected Capital Defense Weekly, in a post entitled, "They seem to be getting desperate," takes down the "death penalty deters" argument a peg or two. You can read his argument here, along with a bit of give-and-take with the author of one of the disputed studies.

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