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Ac 322 Capital Punishment Research Paper

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Ac 322 Capital Punishment Research Paper
EC 322 – Economics of Law:
FINAL PAPER

Caitlin Howell
100535920
To: Dr. Azim Essaji
April 5th, 2013

When understanding criminal law it is important to consider the positive and negative effects that different punishment alternatives can have. Over the last century the use of capital punishment, the legal process for which an individual is sentence to death when found guilty of committing a crime, has been a subject debated back and forth between government parties on its effectiveness. Many people believe that the issues of fairness, constitutionality, morality of an individual’s life, and potential of convicting the innocent are too important to allow the use of the
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The gains associated with capital punishment are the affect it can have on effectively deterring criminals from not only murderer, but any serious crime (Cameron 1989). It is used as an intimidation factor for which people weigh the cost and benefits of their actions, and in a case where the cost is their life, the probability of them committing a crime will decrease (Shepherd 2004). The significant relationship it shares with the homicide rate has been found that 150 fewer homicides take place in reaction to one execution happening to a convicted murderer (Cooter and Ulen 2012). Looking at this relationship directly from an economic perspective, capital punishment can be seen as a commodity; an increase in it leads to an increase in consumer welfare as it decreases the chance of another victim being murdered (Cameron 1993). The effect that deterrence has on society is seen as a public good as well because of the positive, widespread affect it has on a larger number of consumers by increases their safety and security. By increasing the amount of resources the government puts towards conviction and punishment for criminal activities, it will allow for a reduction in harm (Cooter and Ulen 2012) and allow the demand for protection and a safer environment to be met. Capital punishment is the strongest alternative of punishment to create the largest deterrent …show more content…
Innocent people that are found guilty for a crime and are executed as a result will suffer an infinite loss of welfare, leading to a fall in the level of optimal capital punishment (Cameron 1989). Not only this but it adds a cost to society as people will pay more to prove themselves innocent as the real offenders will gain because their expected probability of punishment will decrease; this is know as the innocence externality theory (Cameron 1989). Since the turn of the century it has been found that at least 23 people have been wrongfully executed (Giarratano 1991) with the possibility of more that are unknown, all of which will not be able to receive compensation in exchange for the wrongful doing. These mistakes have happened due to reasons including misleading and suppressed evidence, untrustworthy confessions, perjury, mistaken eyewitnesses, or an incompetent defence counsel (Giarratano 1998). Many of these mistakes could have been corrected with a longer execution delay, but legislation believed that lowering this delay has more of a positive impact on social costs and was therefore decreased in 1996 as stated above (Shepherd 1004). Even though capital punishment can decrease the crime rate, the risk of executing even one innocent person should be a large enough reason to consider implementing other forms of strict

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