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How Have Homicide Rates Been Affected By California's Death Penalty?

One of the arguments most frequently used to justify the death penalty is deterrence: that it is necessary to kill an offender to dissuade other people from committing the same kind of crime. 

In this study, homicide rates were analyzed in 1992 and 1993 on a month-by-month basis. Rates for the four month period preceding and following the executions of both Robert Alton Harris and David Mason were examined to discern evidence of a deterrent effect.

Additionally, the annual increase in the murder rates was compared during a period of fifteen years in which California carried out the death penalty, and the twenty-four years in which it did not. 

In sum, the evidence suggests that there is no reduction in homicides due to the death penalty, and that the death penalty may, in fact, "lead by example." 

How Have Homicide Rates Been Affected By California's Death Penalty?

Keywords: death penalty, deterrence, federal, state policy

Posted in Publications, Sentencing

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