Death penalty has been used for centuries to punish serious crimes. Crime in this aspect can be homicide, terrorism, espionage or treason among others. It varies from one country to another. Some countries in Asia, a drug conviction alone is enough for one to be executed. The debate on whether capital punishment is an effective means of hindering crimes of the above stated nature has been raging on for years, but research show that capital punishment is an effectual deterrent measure.
A survey done with the intent of finding out what the public opinion was, regarding the issue of capital punishment was conducted in the month of October 2013 by Gallup, a firm that specializes in research and analysis. They found that more than 50% supported this form of punishment. In addition to this, majority of people believed it was morally just and acceptable.
A study conducted by Zimmerman (2004) using state level data between 1978 and 1997 concluded that each execution resulted into a corresponding decrease in murder cases (14 less homicide) in that particular year. In addition to this, Zimmerman (2004) noted that announcing to the general public that an offender will be executed had a potent effect on the population. Such announcements were effective in deterring future offenders. Findings by Zimmerman (2004) are further supported by research done by Dezhbakhsh, Rubin and Shepherd, which concluded that between 1977 and 1996 there were 18 fewer murders. This was based on empirical evidence from 3000 counties. Mocan and Gittings (2003) study also found that if laws are less strict and severe, there was a corresponding increase in murder cases. The data showed that for each execution there was a resulting decrease in murder rate but if death penalty was abolished there was a corresponding increase in murder rate.
There are conflicting findings that aim to dispute the effectiveness of the death penalty as a means of deterring serious crimes. For instance, a research done by Radelete and Lacock (2009) concluded that capital punishment is not an effective method in preventing serious crime. Their conclusion was reached after surveying various researches conducted by leading criminologists. The authors support life imprisonment as a substitute for capital punishment.
In conclusion, humans by nature fear death and pain, this innate quality can be utilized to prevent crime. When a potential murderer is in rage and she/he is about to assault his/her opponent, the thought that she/he might get caught, tried and sentenced to death is what prevents many people from just picking up a gun and killing whoever offends them. This measure is effective in deterring potential criminals. Death penalty is the right choice.
Dezhbakhsh, H., Rubin, P., & Shepherd, J. (2003) "Does Capital Punishment Have a Deterrent
Effect? New Evidence from Post moratorium Panel Data. “American Law and Economics, 5(2), 344-376.
Gallup. (2014, June 4). Death Penalty. Retrieved from
Mocan, N., & Gittings, K. (2003) "Getting Off Death Row: Commuted Sentences and the
Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment," Journal of Law and Economics, 46(2), 453-478.
Radelet, M., & Traci, L. (2009). Do Executions Lower Homicide Rates: The Views of Leading
Criminologists. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 99(2), 498 – 508.
Zimmerman, P. (2004). State Executions, Deterrence, and the Incidence of Murder. Journal of
Applied Economics, 7(1), 163 – 193.
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