Texas Study Contends That Executions Have A Deterrent Effect


As many as 60 people may be alive today in Texas because two dozen convicted killers were executed last year in the nation’s most active capital punishment state, says a study of death penalty deterrence reported by the Associated Press. A review of executions and homicides in Texas by criminologist Raymond Teske at Sam Houston State University and Duke sociologists Kenneth Land and Hui Zheng concludes a monthly decline of between 0.5 to 2.5 homicides in Texas follows each execution.

“Evidence exists of modest, short-term reductions in the numbers of homicides in Texas in the month of or after executions,” said the study published in Criminology, a journal of the American Society of Criminology. Results of other research have varied from capital punishment’s saving more lives than suggested in this study to no conclusive effect. The new study was the first to focus on monthly data in Texas, where researchers said the number of executions – 447 since capital punishment resumed in 1982 – is statistically significant enough “to make possible relatively stable estimates of the homicide response to executions.” Six Texas inmates are scheduled to die this year, including one today and another next week.

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