Death Penalty

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The death penalty has been a controversial issue for many years. It was established centuries ago and has been accepted by society. It was put into place to punish those who had committed an offense against laws of the institution that was in place at the time. Within our society the death penalty has been associated with several symbols. ‘An eye for an eye,’ is a symbol that has come to be the representation of the death penalty; which was one of the original ideas behind it. Times have changed and the death penalty is now used for more serious offenses and considered to be a deterrence. The death penalty should be abolished because it does not effectively deter crime. I will be discussing the lack of deterrence on the death penalty through the symbolic interactionism perspective. There should be no doubt afterwards that the death penalty is not a deterrence. There have been many studies done by criminologists on the deterrence effect and the death penalty. Many researchers have been able to show through their studies that there is a deterrence while others have shown that there is a lack of it. Michael Radelet and Traci Lacock, in Do Executions Lower Homicide Rates? The Views of Leading Criminologists, analyze the studies that have been previously conducted by criminologist researchers and find many flaws within these studies. In order to support their theory, Radelet and Lacock, conduct a study of their own that questions the deterrence effect. Their study is based on a 2008 questionnaire from the top criminologists of the world; which consists of 12 questions that are based on the death penalty and deterrence. This study is similar to the one done previously by Michael Radelet and Ronald Akers in 1996; which also consisted of the leading criminologists of the world and their expertise on the matter. Having the death penalty as a punishment does not necessarily mean that it will deter people from committing murder. Based on research by Benjamin Tyree, in


Bibliography: Lacock, T.L., &Radelet, M.L. (2009). Do Executions Lower Homicide Rates? The Views of Leading Criminologists. Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, 99 (2), 489-508. There have been previous studies done in regards to the deterrent effect on the death penalty. Many of these studies show that there is a deterrent effect when the death penalty is imposed. In this article the authors from the University of Colorado-Boulder criticize these researchers because they find many flaws in their studies. In order to support their theory that there is no deterrent effect on the death penalty Michael Radelet and Traci Lalock conduct a study based on a questionnaire. They selected the world’s top Criminologists from Fellow in the American Society of Criminology (ASC); those who had won the highest award presented by ASC, or had been president of the ASC between 1997 and 2008. They were asked their expert opinion on this subject based on questions that were previously used in a study conducted in 1996 by Radelet and Akers. The results of the survey from the experts indicate that the death penalty will not deter people from committing murder; which were the same results from the 1996 study. Based on the findings of this study the conclusion is that the death penalty is not a deterrent based on the expertise of these criminologists. Tyree, Benjamin S., (2007). Does the Death Penalty Deter Crime? University of Richmond Law Journal Law Review, 41 (1), 1-17. There are many that might argue that the death penalty deters crime, however, in recent studies done this is not the case. A researcher at the University of Richmond conducted a study based on two hypotheses that will determine if the death penalty effectively deters crimes that are punishable by death. The researcher, Benjamin Richmond, uses two different tests to examine these two hypotheses. Richmond uses in his first test the murder rates within two states that enforce the death penalty and two states that don’t enforce the death penalty. In his second test, Richmond uses the murder rates within two states that often execute their inmates in contrast to two states that seldom execute their inmates. He finds that the results of the hypotheses that were used are completely the opposite. The conclusion then, based on statistics, proved that the death penalty does not have a deterrent effect on crimes punishable by death.

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