The death penalty does not deter crime. It is a mythological idea that threatening someone with the loss of life will change their behavior.

America’s leading criminologists have long  concluded that the death penalty does not deter homicide any better than long imprisonment. Eighty-seven percent of the experts believe that capital punishment can be abolished without any adverse effect on the murder rate.Most police officers agree that the death penalty does nothing to deter crime.

The certainty of a punishment is a more effective deterrent than its severity. If  a state is serious about reducing the homicide rate, it is much more constructive to spend tax dollars on apprehending murderers and administering prompt punishment than on executing those who we know will already die in prison. In recent years, public confidence in the death penalty has been chipped away by DNA exoneration, evidence of massive inequities and racial bias, its failure to give “closure” to victims, and a general sense that the system is too broken to be fixed. The most important rationale used by friends of the executioner is deterrence. Supporting the death penalty gives politicians an easy way to pretend that they are serious about reducing criminal violence.

There is the religious objection that “God gave life and only God should take it away.” And yet this form of punishment prevails in so-called  religious or Christian countries. Of course the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” does not mean (or at least most people with Christian convictions do not interpret that commandment as meaning) that life should not be taken under any circumstances. Individuals interpret the commandment according to their own individual conception of religion.  As I said in an earlier article: every person is sacred, every life is precious – even the life of one who has violated or possibly violated the rights of others by taking a life. Human dignity is not qualified by what we do. It cannot be earned or forfeited. Human dignity is an irrevocable character of each and every person. I believe this with all my heart and soul. Troy Davis’s last days few years was marked by the  missing facet of dignity. He was not given the dignity of a final polygraph. He was not given the dignity of testimony from more than 6 people that he was not the one who committed the murder.

Most criminologists have openly stated in public that the death penalty was a waste of funds:

Deterrence is a myth – and people know it

• A 2009 study found 88 percent of the nation’s top criminologists believe the death penalty is not a deterrent. Nearly two out of three Americans agree, according to recent polling.

• No credible study has found that the death penalty deters crime.

• Studies have shown the death penalty has nothing to do with prison safety. Proper staffing, equipment, programming, and classification are the keys to making prisons safe and preventing prison murder.

Law enforcement officials have criticized capital punishment for wasting limited crime prevention resources. Because the death penalty does not deter irrational acts of violence, many law enforcement officials find it a distraction from their goal of public safety.

Read the below quotes from law officials and make the call:

“Spending all this money on the death penalty might be worth it – if it actually made our communities safer. But it doesn’t…

Our communities would be exponentially better off by reinvesting the time, money and resources we spend on trying to get a

few people executed into crime prevention measures that work.”- Norm Stamper, former Seattle Police Chief

“The state can protect many more officers at a fraction of the cost by adding police, providing the best protective equipment

available, and implementing effective policing programs known to reduce crime. The death penalty is simply a distraction from

the real issues surrounding public safety.”- Patrick Murphy, former Detroit and New York City Police Commissioner

“Continuing to spend millions of dollars to take a murder defendant who has already been caught and subject him to death rather

than life without parole will not prevent the next murder. Redirecting money to more vigorously apprehend and prosecute armed

robbers, rapists, burglars, and those who commit gun crimes will prevent murders and save lives.”

Robert M. Carney, District Attorney, Schenectady, NY

“The very notion that we need a death penalty  to keep prisons safe is both professionally and personally offensive. I don’t believe there is a

single qualified prison warden in this country that wouldn’t trade the death penalty for more resources to keep his or her facility safe. The

death penalty system is just a drain on those resources, and it serves no purpose in the safety of the public or prisons.”

Ron McAndrew, former Warden, Florida State Prison, who presided over eight executions

Consider this:

The United States of America (USA) continued to be the only executioner in the Americas in 2010 and executed 46 prisoners. But the number of executions carried out in the USA in 2010 decreased compared to 2009, when 52 people were executed. The use of the death penalty in the country continues to decline, compared to the peaks achieved during the 1990s. Although at least 110 death sentences were imposed during 2010, this represents only about a third of the number handed down in the mid-1990s. At the end of the year, there were more than 3200 people under sentence of death in the USA. (Source:Amensty International)

Executions were recorded in the USA in 2010 as follows: Texas (17), Ohio (8), Alabama (5), Mississippi (3), Oklahoma (3), Virginia (3), Georgia (2), Arizona (1), Florida (1), Louisiana (1), Utah (1) and Washington (1). Once again, the majority of executions in the USA were carried out in a handful of states. Utah and Washington carried out their first executions since 1999 and 2001 respectively. ( 2011 stats were not submitted) (Source:Amnesty International)

This year in July we marked the  35th anniversary of the return of the American death penalty.

There is an eye opening study called the Baldus Study. The results of the Charging and Sentencing study were the basis of  an appeal (McCleskey v. Kemp) that the death penalty sentencing in his trial was influenced by racial discrimination.Baldus and his colleagues found in the Charging and Sentencing Study that of the 2,484 cases studied, 128 defendants were given a sentence of the death penalty, meaning that 5% of all studied defendants were sentenced to death. The researchers also found that in cases where the victim was white, the death sentences was handed out at a rate 8.3 times higher than in cases where the victim was black.

Finally, the study concluded that in cases with white victims and black defendant the death penalty was given out 21% of the time while in cases where both the victim and defendant were white the death penalty was given 8%of the time.

In a nationwide poll of police chiefs, the death penalty was ranked last in effectiveness among crime-fighting programs behind reducing drug abuse, improving the economy and jobs, hiring more police officers and reducing the availability of guns.

Make sure to read:

“May God Have Mercy On Your Souls”: Troy Davis Executed

Reporter Describes Witnessing Troy Davis’ Execution