Eighty-eight percent of the country's top criminologists do not believe the death penalty acts as a deterrent to homicide, according to a study published in Northwestern University School of Law's Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. The authors say the study, “Do Executions Lower Homicide Rates? The Views of Leading Criminologists,” undermines the idea of deterrence as a rationale for maintaining the punishment.
The study was written by Michael Radelet, sociology department chair at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and Traci Lacock, an attorney and sociology graduate student in Boulder. They said 87 percent of the expert criminologists believe that abolition of the death penalty would not have any significant effect on murder rates. In addition, 75 percent of the respondents agree that “debates about the death penalty distract Congress and state legislatures from focusing on real solutions to crime problems.” (The weblink below connects to a pdf version of the study.)