Death Penalty Deterring Murder? Experts Can’t Figure It Out

Ohio is going on a killing spree, yesterday state officials executed a death-row inmate and the state has 11 more executions scheduled over the next 20 months, numbers that will make Ohio one of the busiest execution states in the country. Yet despite Ohio’s large number of death penalty convictions experts are not sure it is actually helping slow the number of murders.

A group of experts at the National Research Council recently studied death penalty studies and considered only the science, not the morality, of the death penalty. The group reviewed dozens of various studies on the topic and revealed “flaw after flaw” when studies claims the death penalty was a good deterrent to murder.

According to NPR flaws included issues such as not considering how punishments like life in prison may alter the homicide rate. Some of the studies also assumed that murderers were able to determine their risk of execution based on the severity of their crimes, an assessment law professionals say is hard if not sometimes impossible to do.

In the meantime the independent panel which studied currently available tests argue that better studies could be created which would more accurately assess the state of mind murderers go through when committing a crime, although that same panel admits that such studies would not be easy to create.

Unfortunately the study doesn’t examine in sheer numbers how Ohio’s population for example fares per capita in murders to other states that rarely use or don’t use the death penalty at all. Although even that type of research would likely be flaws because of geographic and other considerations.

Essentially what it might come down to is this, the death penalty has always been contested by some and endorsed by others and it will likely stay that way long into the future.