14 June 2007

Death penalty deters crime

From the I told you so file:

The National Center for Policy analysis has published a long-term study in which it shows that the death penalty actually deters murders.

The Illinois moratorium on executions in 2000 -- imposed by then-Gov. George Ryan and continued by current Gov. Rod Blagojevich -- led to 150 additional homicides over four years following, according to a 2006 study by professors at the University of Houston.

Those of you who disagree with the results of this and other pro-death penalty studies; take a moment and absorb the following analogy.

What if the state had a law that if you commit a murder on Sunday, you’d automatically be executed for that murder - no appeals? What do you think would happen to the murder rate for Sundays?

It would undoubtedly fall.

The inescapable conclusion is that Capital Punishment does deter crime.

One of my college professors was a death penalty proponent. He discussed it in class one day and brought up the usual reasons that people are opposed to it. The ALCU over-used rant that "even one person wrongfully executed makes the death penalty too risky to enforce" turns out to be a non-issue.

This study shows:
* Assuming as many as 25 percent of those trials resulted in acquittals (and ignoring, as the innocence merchants are wont to do, the problem of wrongful acquittals), the wrongful post-trial conviction rate is only 0.013 percent.
* Since only 5 percent of cases are tried, that would place the overall wrongful conviction rate at around 0.00065 percent.

And what percentage of convicted murders go out and murder again?
This Washington study shows that for men convicted of at least one prior felony, the overall rate of recidivism was 64.6%. Interestingly, African-Americans accounted for 3.5% of the population but 13.6% of all sentences – a disproportionately high rate.
The recidivism rate for murderers was 34.9%. So more than a third of convicted murders went out and murdered again after getting out of prison.


This is just one more reason why I can't stand policies that are enacted out of a Liberal foundation of reasoning. They typically ignore the rational, and focus on the emotive virtues of the topic. Look at almost every initiative that Liberals have had their hand in and they are almost always a disaster in the long-term.

From illegitimacy to drug abuse to a Cradle-to-Grave welfare State - Liberals get it wrong every time.

Their intentions are usually good but they don't have the principles that ensure long-term effectiveness for their national policies.


William Newmiller said...

The "study" on wrongful convictions is actually from an op-ed piece by Morris Hoffman, which appeared in the Wall Street Journal this April. Hoffman's use of math, however, has been well critiqued. See http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-gross11jun11,0,3153812.story?coll=la-opinion-rightrail, for example. Even Hoffman's numbers, however, begin with the assumption that 20% of all trials return an erroneous verdict. That's far too high for any thoughtful person.

Rue St. Michel said...

I read the LATimes piece you cited. Of the 200 "exonerations" by DNA, what the press doesn't ever mention is that many of those convicted were arrested and tried primarily due to either a confession or heavy circumstantial evidence.

Just because the DNA of the accused doesn't match the sample taken at the crime scene, doesn't mean he wasn't there and participating in the rape/murder.

And the analogy that the LATime's author uses comparing wrongful conviction to faulty steering columns seems a bit ... simple. As you know, there are thousands of subtle nuances during a criminal trial that just cannot be quantified using raw data.

Shifting judges, paperwork errors, changing counsel and venues, dead or absent victims, conflicting testimony from witnesses, lab errors --- all combine to skew the results.

Thanks for the thoughtful commentary and your readership.

I see you're a Hemingway fan. I've dabbled in his fiction and read about 50% of his combined works over the previous summer. Any chance I can get an invitation to the Hemingway society blog???

email: stmichelrue@yahoo.com