Report: Deterrent effect of death penalty unclear

AP News
Posted: Apr 18, 2012 10:59 AM
Report: Deterrent effect of death penalty unclear

A new report says there is no reliable research on whether the death penalty has any effect on the murder rate, more than 35 years since the Supreme Court allowed the resumption of executions in the United States.

The National Research Council report says all the studies on the possible deterrent effect of the death penalty suffer from fundamental flaws. The report identifies problems that include not taking account of the effects of alternatives to death sentences or insufficiently weighing how killers assess the risk of execution.

The authors of the new report say they are disappointed to reach the same conclusion as a 1978 study. They say their evaluation of the existing research does not favor either side in the long-running debate about deterrence and the death penalty.