Annotated References for Capital Punishment

credits to BBC Ethics Guide for the image

Apart from the relative concern on the general public’s safety and the relative significance of capital punishment to such, the author also explored the effects of capital punishment to the safety of the law enforcers and found put that contrary to old notions, capital punishment did not alleviate the atrocities and violence committed against the members of the police force. Bailey (1982) likewise mentioned no deterrent factor has been proven in the light of police killings and other violence committed against them.

The author tested the hypothesis for and against deterrence by gauging public reactions and subsequent criminal behaviors during periods where the administration of capital punishment and the debates that usually occur with it were communicated to the general public by means of print media and television. Bailey (1990) concluded that such knowledge of the execution or suspension of capital punishment does not prominently figure to the statistics on crime and thus could not be called to be an effective crime deterrent.

The author explored the results of a study on the deterrent effect of capital punishment inCaliforniafor the period of 1910 to 1962. The results, were however inconclusive and in spite of this, the state has continued to adopt the policy for capital punishment in the guise of crime deterrence. The author viewed this as most unfortunate – particularly in the event that lives are being doomed to death without ensuring that the ends for which such means are carried out were adequately met.

The author explored the dynamics of crime committed in theUnited States of Americathroughout the course of history, and how the increasing atrocities may have resulted to the growing need for a more rigid implementation of a punishment system. The development of crime would result to a better understanding on the operating principles and philosophies on crime prevention and deterrence. The factors affecting criminal behavior such as the media and public opinion likewise merited a lengthy discussion.

The book is an account of the evolution and issues surrounding death penalty in theUnited States. Apart from the deterrent effects of capital punishment, the author pointed out the dangers of a “brutalizing effect,” that is the tendency to create a culture of retaliation instead of forward looking justice and deterrence on states that opted to repay violence with equal violence and killings. The author likewise reviewed literatures on deterrence and brutalization and concluded that such measures overlap significantly on major areas. Because of this, while deterrence may effect capital punishment, its brutalizing effect could not be wholly undermined.

The authors sought to refute one of the most celebrated arguments and studies for the deterrent effect of capital punishment. For Bowers and Pierce (1975), Professor Erlich presented certain data inadequacies on his study which have lessened the integrity of the conclusions he then presented. The methods which Erlich employed in order to examine the critical variables on his previous study were evaluated and later on proved to have invalidated his conclusion. His data treatment and analysis were measured for validity and reliability and the authors concluded that such were insufficient for Erlich to have concluded that capital punishment is indeed an effective deterrent to crime.

The article is an evaluation of major econometric models employed in assessing the deterrent effects of capital punishment to crime – the most notable of which are the models proposed by Becker and Erlich. Both studies supported the deterrence hypothesis through the use of econometric modeling of crime and punishment. However, Brier and Fienberg (1980) adhered that there were considerable flaws in the empirical support presented by Becker and Erlich; as such could not be called fully reliable to prove the deterrence hypothesis.   

The authors assessed the consequences ofOklahoma’s judicial proceedings and its decision to return to the practice of capital punishment. The study revealed that though its deterrent effect are still highly debatable, brutalization figured more prominently – particularly on murder and homicides. The trends have been very observable on such offenses. While the brutalization effects appeared high on individual crimes, the disaggregation of data only confirmed these findings, making the brutalization trend observable even on a much general perspective.

The authors have explored the series of capital punishment executions and homicide rates onUnited StatesandCanadaand concluded that the conduct of death penalty does not have considerable effects on the murder and homicide rate annually. Thus, prior studies may have only used and abused available empirical evidences in order to prove the veracity of the deterrence hypothesis without examining the general aggregate data in the national sphere. As such the deterrent effect of death penalty in particular could not be conclusive in the light of national statistics and on comparative findings with other nations such asCanada.

The book provided a framework of understanding the principles and philosophies pf the abolitionist movement of death penalty in the United States of America. The author presented an overview of the struggle of the era and the symbolic implications of death penalty in the American culture and society. Through this, the reader is afforded with a general background of the prevailing rules and principles as well as areas of improvement in the struggle to promote life and liberty.

The authors sought to refute the notion that capital punishment has a deterrent effect to criminal behavior by presenting an argument that adopted the basic principles of deterrence. The article expounded that the quality of life, a criminal spends in prison has a more significant deterrent effect to crime rather than capital punishment. Through this, the authors sought to debunk the myth of deterrence in the face of capital punishment and even in the mere prospect of death.

The author explored the arbitrariness of capital punishment and its detrimental effect to the conduct of actual justice. The author shared the same belief with US Justice White in saying that death penalty could not achieve its deterrent effect because of its arbitrary quality, its randomness and the manner for which executions takes place. Because of this, while the courts may be ideally conceive as the greatest leveler of the land, it is still – ironically an institution which fosters discrimination and arbitrary sentencing, the gravest cause of which is the cold-blooded taking of an individual life.

  • O’Malley, Sean. “Capital Punishment Is Not a Deterrent.” Current Controversies: Capital Punishment. Ed. Mary E. Williams.San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2000. Opposing ViewpointsResourceCenter. Gale.09 Feb. 2010

The article talked about the myths of capital punishment and its considerable violation to the Christian values of the sanctity of human life. While the judicial points of view varied in the course of events within history, the Church remained to be a staunch advocates for life and social justice – hence the abandonment of a principle that seeks to deter crime by revenge and violence. The author likewise adhered that a state that uphold the principles of capital punishment as a deterrent measure undermines the value of life and liberty, which it had sworn to protect.

The authors likewise sought to refute Erlich’s findings on the deterrent effect of capital punishment to criminal behavior. Erlich’s study a few years ago has been a groundbreaking literature for proving that capital punishment indeed has a deterrent effect on crime. Nonetheless, the authors contended that the employment of a time-series model and the time when the study was conducted by Erlich do not provide a stable ground for arriving to such conclusion and was potentially limiting in terms of possibly exploring other facets of the policy on capital punishment.

The publication discussed the evolution of capital punishment in the American context and the divergent opinions that formed upon its infrequent enforcement. Data were likewise presented in order to point out how capital punishment has been employed to the disadvantage of black persons – in that it also discriminates harshly and often without sufficient ground or reason. Thus, while it fails to achieve the deterrent effect that capital punishment sought to achieve, it highlights discrimination and other racist conflicts in the American criminal justice system.

The author adhered that the erosion of the church influence on the affairs of the state – particularly after the Reformation period has ended its struggle, contributed to the promotion of death penalty and in conceiving such as an effective deterrent to crime. What the states which have adopted it do not realize, is that the administration of death penalty has profound implications on the value laden principles of democracy and discrimination. The author believed that with the abandonment of such values, retribution and therefore vengeance, rather than deterrence is promoted.

The author talked about the moral scruples surrounding the battle against the administration of death penalty. According to Stevenson, death penalty is rooted on the principles of anger and hopelessness – a useless retaliation for something that was lost beyond recovery, and a reinforcement of an eye for an eye doctrine, which for him, was very un-Christian and inhumane in almost all aspects conceivable. By enforcing death penalty, the offenders’ respective family was likewise victimized, and suffer undue social stigma. Because of this, the cycle of retaliation and injustices continues.

The author explored the dynamics of capital punishment in the cultural, economic and political life of the Americans. The author compared the “killing state” to a juridical Frankenstein – which in the process of seeking deterrent ways even in employing violent measures eventually created tendencies for further atrocities and the disintegration of values. The terror inflicted upon the consciousness of the victims were sought to be transferred – not only to the offenders but to their families who had to face the dire consequence of having a family member publicly executed.

The authors explored the dynamics of pro-death penalty sentiments and the issues that might have nourished or disrupted such sentiments. Their study revealed that because death penalty sentiments on theUnited States of Americarest upon their conception of justice and hence more morally founded rather than utilitarian. The authors likewise revealed that such pro-death penalty sentiments could easily be replaced by a pro-life measure if the sympathizers would be assured of swift and fair justice – such as the infliction of life imprisonment without parole and verified knowledge that death penalty is not an effective deterrent to crime.

The book explored the reasons why the United States of America continue to tinker on the prospect of capital punishment when almost all advanced European countries have ceased its implementation. The author believed that this is mainly due to the distrust of the people in the deterring capacity of the judiciary and not on mere utilitarian grounds. Aside from this, racial discrimination continues to prominently figure in the arbitrariness of criminal justice system, which forms the basic assumptions favoring death penalty.