Staff Editorial: Studies give new breath on death penalty issue
The heated issue of capital punishment has always been in the spotlight, whether on the state or national stage. Various political and judicial entities have weighed in on the issue, especially after grassroots organizations have put more attention on this life-and-death matter. Recent studies, however, have produced results that will likely intensify this debate: Executions save lives.
The studies found that for each prisoner who is put to death that three to 18 murders are prevented in the future, The New York Times reported.
The studies were performed by economists over the past decade and compare the rate of executions in different areas with the homicide rate over the same time period. The studies found murder rates have a tendency of falling while the rates of executions tend to rise.
In essence, the studies try to find whether executions made a significant difference in murder rates. The studies focused specifically on states and their counties seeing whether, giving a specific time, executions affected murder rates in that year or in the near future.
Critics, the Times reported, say the studies include anomalies within its data, specifically in Texas, a state that’s infamous for its high rate of executions.
Critics also pointed to a lurking variable that could be affecting the results: price. Capital punishment litigations are expensive, and can cost more than $1 million. The money that’s spent on such endeavors could be spent on other projects, such as policing or other crime determent programs.
Results that sway one way or another on heated issues that have been longstanding should be taken cautiously, especially with a limited set of data. In 2003, there were more than 16,000 homicides reported. In the same time, 153 death sentences were carried out, the Times reported.
But if capital punishment doesn’t deter criminals, death in the prison system could, the Times reported. The number of deaths in prisons, which can be attributed to a number of causes, has an affect of deterring crime as well.
In light of these results, however controversial, the issue of capital punishment won’t be leaving the attention of concern citizens, regardless of their political perspective.
The jury, for now, remains out.