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NCJ Number: 76151 Find in a Library
Title: Deterrent Effect of the Death Penalty - An Extended Time Series Analysis
Journal: Omega  Volume:13  Issue:10  Dated:(1979-1980)  Pages:235-259
Author(s): W C Bailey
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 25
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The deterrence hypothesis of an inverse relationship between the certainty of execution and homicide rates for individual States with capital punishment laws is presented as an alternative to studies that aggregate execution, homicide and unemployment data on a national, and not a State level.
Abstract: Prompted by a number of important recent Supreme Court decisions, the last few years have witnessed a renewed research interest in the deterrent effect of the death penalty for murder. There has been an attempt by sociologists and economists, to overcome the shortcomings of the classic investigations in this area. Recent studies, however, are not without some important limitations. Recent studies by Yunker and Ehrlich, in addition to aggregating relevant data on a national rather than on a State level, fail to differentiate between abolition and retentionist jurisdictions and do not give adequate weight to less conclusive findings for the period 1933-1959 when executions were at a more substantial level. The hypothesis of the deterrent effect of the certainty of execution on homicide rates was applied to the 37 States retaining capital punishment. Five sociodemographic factors related to homicide were introduced, with three different models of the execution rate/homicide rate relationship being considered. Contrary to the hypothesis, a series of multiple regression analyses, using different models of the execution rate/homicide rate relationship fail to provide general support for the deterrence argument. Analysis shows a few select sociodemographic factors (income, education, unemployment, urban population, race) to be better predictors of States' homicide rates than use of the death penalty. Possible study limitations are delineated. Twenty-eight references and five data tables are provided. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Capital punishment; Deterrence; State laws
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