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Deterrence, the Death Penalty, and the Data

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Abstract

A conceptual error common to many criminological writers is the assumption that deterrence prevents all crimes in about the same way. Prove that college sophomores are deterred from cheating by the threat of severe academic discipline, and it follows that potential killers will hold their fire because the law promises an end on the gallows to all murderers. The absurdity of the parallel is ignored by those who would like to justify severity of punishment as the sovereign preventative of crime.

Keywords

Capital Punishment Violent Crime Deterrent Effect Homicide Rate Murder Rate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Johannes Andenaes, Punishment and Deterrence ( Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1974 ), p. 84.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Daniel Glaser, “Capital Punishment—Deterrent or Stimulus to Murder? Our Unexamined Deaths and Penalties,” University of Toledo Law Review 10 (Winter 1979), pp. 317–333.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Gordon P. Waldo, “The Death Penalty and Deterrence: A Review of Recent Research,” in The Mad, the Bad, and the Different: Essays in Honor of Simon Dinitz, ed. Israel L. Barak-Glantz and C. Ronald Huff ( Lexington, Massachusetts: D.C. Heath, 1918 ), pp. 169–178.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Thorsten Sellin, The Penalty of Death ( Beverly Hills and London: Sage, 1980 ), p. 144.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Thorsten Sellin, The Penalty of Death ( Beverly Hills and London: Sage, 1980 ), pp. 156–174.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Homicide Statistics, 1980 ( Ottawa: Statistics Canada, January 1982 ), pp. 125–131.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Homicide Statistics, 1980 (Ottawa: Statistics Canada, January 1982), , p. 130.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Isaac Ehrlich, “The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: A Question of Life or Death,” American Economic Review 65 (1975), p. 397.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Alfred Blumstein, Jacqueline Cohen, and Daniel Nagin, eds., Deterrence and Incapacitation: Estimating the Effects of Criminal Sanctions on Crime Rates (Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences, 1978), pp. 59–63, a summary of the findings of the Panel on Research on Deterrent and Incapacitative Effects relative to capital punishment. See also in the same volume, Lawrence Klein, Brian Forst, and Victor Filatov, “The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: An Assessment of the Estimates,” pp. 336–360, a paper commissioned by the panel for inclusion in this report.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Brian E. Forst, “The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: A Cross-State Analysis,” University of Minnesota Law Review 61 (1977), pp. 743–767.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Deryck Beyleveld, “Ehrlich’s Analysis of Deterrence,” British Journal of Criminology 22 (April 1982), pp. 101–123.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Isaac Ehrlich, “On Positive Methodology, Ethics and Polemics in Deterrence Research,” British Journal of Criminology 22 (April 1982), pp. 124–139.Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    William J. Bowers and Glenn L. Pierce, “What Is The Effect Of Executions: Deterrence or Brutalization” (Unpublished paper, Center for Applied Social Research, Northeastern University, n. d.).Google Scholar
  14. 15.
    Franklin E. Zimring and Gordon J. Hawkins, Deterrence ( Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1973 ), p. 16.Google Scholar
  15. See Isaac Ehrlich and Randall Mark, “Fear of Deterrence” Journal of Legal Studies, (June 1977).Google Scholar
  16. The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: New Evidence on an Old Controversy,“ American Journal of Sociology 86 (July 1980), pp. 139–148.Google Scholar
  17. For an additional discussion of the Phillips paper, see American Journal of Sociology 88 (July 1982), pp. 161–172.Google Scholar
  18. 1.
    Johannes Andenaes, Punishment and Deterrence ( Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1974 ).Google Scholar
  19. 2.
    Jack P. Gibbs, Crime, Punishment and Deterrence (New York, Oxford, and Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1975 ).Google Scholar
  20. 3.
    Franklin E Zimring and Gordon J. Hawkins, Deterrence: The Legal Threat in Crime Control ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973 ).Google Scholar
  21. 4.
    Cesare Beccaria, On Crimes and Punishments,trans. Henry Paolucci (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill 1963). (Originally published, 1764.)Google Scholar
  22. 5.
    Ezzat Abdel Fattah, A Study of the Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment with Special Reference to the Canadian Situation ( Ottawa: Information Canada, 1972 ), p. 191.Google Scholar
  23. 9.
    David C. Baldus and James W. L. Cole, “A Comparison of the Work of Thorsten Sellin and Isaac Ehrlich on the Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment,” Yale Law Journal 85 (1975), pp. 170–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 10.
    Arnold Barnett, “The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: A Test of Some Recent Studies,” Operations Research 29 (March/April 1981), pp. 346–370.Google Scholar
  25. 11.
    Wassily Leontief, “Academic Economics,” Science 217 (9 July 1982), pp. 104–107.Google Scholar
  26. 12.
    David P. Phillips, “The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: New Evidence on an Old Controversy,” American Journal of Sociology 86 (July 1980), pp. 139–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 13.
    Hans Zeisel, “A Comment on `The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment’ by Phillips,” American Journal of Sociology 88 pp. 167–169; David P. Phillips, “Reply to Zeisel,” (July 1982), pp. 170–172.Google Scholar
  28. 1.
    One of the first doubters of the Ehrlich oeuvre was Gordon Tullock, “Does Punishment Deter Crime?” The Public Interest 36 (Summer 1974), p. 108. Tullock, an enthusiastic utilitarian, was rightly dubious about Ehrlich’s reliance on “the data available for this study [which] were not what one would hope for….” I am not aware that Dr. Ehrlich has found ways to obtain more satisfactory data.Google Scholar

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© Ernest van den Haag and John P. Conrad 1983

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