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Murders of Passion, Execution Delays, and the Deterrence of Capital Punishment

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  • Joanna M. Shepherd
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    Abstract

    I examine two important questions in the capital punishment literature: what kinds of murders are deterred and what effect does the length of the death row wait have on deterrence? I use monthly murder and execution data that measure deterrence more precisely than the annual data of most capital punishment studies. Results from least squares and negative binomial estimations indicate that capital punishment does deter: each execution results in, on average, three fewer murders. In addition, capital punishment deters murders previously believed to be undeterrable: crimes of passion and murders by intimates. Moreover, murders of both African-American and white victims decrease after executions, which suggests that capital punishment benefits people of all races. However, longer waits on death row before execution lessen the deterrence. Specifically, one less murder is committed for every 2.75-year reduction in death row waits. Thus, recent legislation to shorten the wait should strengthen capital punishment's deterrent effect.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal The Journal of Legal Studies.

    Volume (Year): 33 (2004)
    Issue (Month): 2 (06)
    Pages: 283-321

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:33:y:2004:p:283-321

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    Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLS/

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    Cited by:
    1. Hashem Dezhbakhsh & Paul Rubin, 2007. "From the "Econometrics of Capital Punishment" to the "Capital Punishment" of Econometrics: On the Use and Abuse of Sensitivity Analysis," Emory Economics 0715, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
    2. Yang, Bijou & Lester, David, 2008. "The deterrent effect of executions: A meta-analysis thirty years after Ehrlich," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 453-460, September.
    3. Christoph Engel & Bernd Irlenbusch, 2010. "Turning the Lab into Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon. The Effect of Punishment on Offenders and Non-Offenders," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2010_06, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    4. Donohue III, John J. & Wolfers, Justin, 2006. "Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate," IZA Discussion Papers 1949, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Angela K. Dills & Jeffrey A. Miron & Garrett Summers, 2010. "What Do Economists Know about Crime?," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America, pages 269-302 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Gerritzen, Berit & Kirchgässner, Gebhard, 2013. "Facts or Ideology: What Determines the Results of Econometric Estimates of the Deterrence Effect of Death Penalty? A Meta-Analysis," Economics Working Paper Series 1303, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.

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