Friday, May 2, 2014

Clayton Lockett and the capital punishment deterrence myth

The recent botched execution of Clayton Lockett, whereby the accused regained consciousness and then died of a heart attack, got me to thinking about capital punishment in general. 

FBI crime statistics show that states with the death penalty have a consistently higher murder rate than those without the death penalty by a margin as high as 44% in some years, thus disproving any notion that the death penalty is a deterrent. Therefore, shouldn't anyone truly concerned for victims be committed to finding a truly effective deterrent to prevent more murders from occurring in the first place? 

At the same time, the Staff Report by the Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights Committee on the Judiciary (1994) showed that 89% of those on death row are either black or latino.

In light of the above two findings, I wonder if deterrence is really ever the point of capital punishment to begin with?


  1. The problem with statistics...they can be made to say anything the presenter wants. It's the underlying data that is important. And if you don't have access to that, it's best to approach all the 'percentages' with a cynical eye.

    So, what do you think is right? I think that is the better question. The death penalty is set aside for the most heinous crimes. It ain't for late baby sitters.

    Thanks for provoking the synapses :)

  2. ack...I hate that verification. Took me four times to type in the correct letters. Consider if it is worth having. I am much less likely to reply in the future. Just a thought.