Death Penalty and Murder Rate

Figures per 100,000 population.
For 2013, the average Murder Rate of Death Penalty states was 4.4, while the average Murder Rate of States without the Death Penalty was 3.4
For 2012, the average Murder Rate of Death Penalty States was 4.7, while the average Murder Rate of States without the Death Penalty was 3.7
For 2011, the average Murder Rate of Death Penalty States was 4.7, while the average Murder Rate of States without the Death Penalty was 3.1
For 2010, the average Murder Rate of Death Penalty States was 4.6, while the average Murder Rate of States without the Death Penalty was 2.9
For 2009, the average Murder Rate of Death Penalty States was 4.9, while the average Murder Rate of States without the Death Penalty was 2.8
For 2008, the average Murder Rate of Death Penalty States was 5.2, while the average Murder Rate of States without the Death Penalty was 3.3
Louisiana, which has the death penalty, has the highest murder rate in the country per 100,000, 10.8 in 2015.
Vermont, Hawaii and Iowa, all of which have no death penalty, had the lowest rates per 100,00 population in 2015: 1.6, 1.5 and 1.4, respectively.
http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/murder-rates-nationally-and-state#MRord
Lois

Hmmmm. One might surmise that having a death penalty INCREASES the murder rate. Now why would modeling mortal violence ever increase the likelihood of others engaging in mortal violence? It’s a mystery (for ignorant people, at least).
But more importantly the death penalty CANNOT be adjudicated equitably in our criminal justice system. (i.e., more money = less death penalties for those accused)
AND the death penalty CANNOT be implemented with 100% assurance that an innocent person will never be executed.
IOW we should say goodbye to our revered death penalty.

Hmmmm. One might surmise that having a death penalty INCREASES the murder rate. Now why would modeling mortal violence ever increase the likelihood of others engaging in mortal violence? It's a mystery (for ignorant people, at least). But more importantly the death penalty CANNOT be adjudicated equitably in our criminal justice system. (i.e., more money = less death penalties for those accused) AND the death penalty CANNOT be implemented with 100% assurance that an innocent person will never be executed. IOW we should say goodbye to our revered death penalty.
Of course we should. Civilized countries have done it, why can't the US? Here are the only countries in the world that still have it. The US is the only Western country and the only democracy on this shameful list. CHINA IRAN SAUDI ARABIA IRAQ UNITED STATES PAKISTAN YEMEN KOREA (NORTH) VIETNAM LIBYA Aren't we in good company in the death penalty? Remember when the US was the leader of the Western world? Makes you proud to be an American, doesn't it? Lois
The US is the only Western country and the only democracy on this shameful list. CHINA IRAN SAUDI ARABIA IRAQ UNITED STATES PAKISTAN YEMEN KOREA (NORTH) VIETNAM LIBYA Aren't we in good company in the death penalty? Remember when the US was the leader of the Western world? Makes you proud to be an American, doesn't it? Lois
That's some list. It's sounds like a SuperAxis of (something or other, what's the word?) ... oh yeah, EVIL.. (although Viet Nam and China aren't all that bad. They are, no doubt, really good at math.)
The US is the only Western country and the only democracy on this shameful list. CHINA IRAN SAUDI ARABIA IRAQ UNITED STATES PAKISTAN YEMEN KOREA (NORTH) VIETNAM LIBYA Aren't we in good company in the death penalty? Remember when the US was the leader of the Western world? Makes you proud to be an American, doesn't it? Lois
Lois That's some list. It's sounds like a SuperAxis of (something or other, what's the word?) ... oh yeah, EVIL.. (although Viet Nam and China aren't all that bad. They are, no doubt, really good at math.) You can be good at math without being moral.
Hmmmm. One might surmise that having a death penalty INCREASES the murder rate. Now why would modeling mortal violence ever increase the likelihood of others engaging in mortal violence? It's a mystery (for ignorant people, at least). But more importantly the death penalty CANNOT be adjudicated equitably in our criminal justice system. (i.e., more money = less death penalties for those accused) AND the death penalty CANNOT be implemented with 100% assurance that an innocent person will never be executed. IOW we should say goodbye to our revered death penalty.
the death penalty creates an example to would-be murderers that if they think they have a good enough reason it's OK to kill people (which is what a death penalty state is saying with the death penalty). So they follow the leader. It is also a statement that life is cheap. Lois
Hmmmm. One might surmise that having a death penalty INCREASES the murder rate.
Regardless of where you stand on the death penalty this is a perfect example of correlation not proving causation. There are at least four possible interpretations here but in my opinion the most likely one is the one that hasn't been mentioned ie. That more violent states with more murders are more likely to invoke the death penalty. In other words rather than the death penalty leading to more murders, more murders and violence may instead lead to a citizenry that is more willing to invoke the death penalty.
Hmmmm. One might surmise that having a death penalty INCREASES the murder rate.
Regardless of where you stand on the death penalty this is a perfect example of correlation not proving causation. There are at least four possible interpretations here but in my opinion the most likely one is the one that hasn't been mentioned ie. That more violent states with more murders are more likely to invoke the death penalty. In other words rather than the death penalty leading to more murders, more murders and violence may instead lead to a citizenry that is more willing to invoke the death penalty. My own low level internet reaearch indicates that may not be true. You are right, correlation does not prove causation, but the statistics are interesting--that the homicide rate went down so definitively in states without the death penalty and went up where there was one. I'd want to see what experts would attribute it to. My research shows that states with the death penalty on average had a slightly higher homicide rate than states without it. But many states without the death penalty had the highest homicide rates-- for example Washington DC, with no death penalty has one of the highest homicide rates per 100,000--15.9. Puerto Rico, also without the penalty, has a whopping 24.4. States that have kept the death penalty had some of the lowest rates, Utah, 1.7; Montana, 2.2; West Virginia, 2.3; Wyoming 2.9, so it is not true that across the board the states with the highest homicide rates are the ones that have kept the death penalty. Although I don't have stats regarding whether rates went up or down in the states that kept the penalty, those that have abolished the penalty were not those with the lowest rates and those that retained it were not the ones with the highest rates. This is where I got the stats: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/state_by_state Lois
Hmmmm. One might surmise that having a death penalty INCREASES the murder rate.
Regardless of where you stand on the death penalty this is a perfect example of correlation not proving causation. There are at least four possible interpretations here but in my opinion the most likely one is the one that hasn't been mentioned ie. That more violent states with more murders are more likely to invoke the death penalty. In other words rather than the death penalty leading to more murders, more murders and violence may instead lead to a citizenry that is more willing to invoke the death penalty. My own low level internet reaearch indicates that may not be true. You are right, correlation does not prove causation, but the statistics are interesting--that the homicide rate went down so definitively in states without the death penalty and went up where there was one. I'd want to see what experts would attribute it to. My research shows that states with the death penalty on average had a slightly higher homicide rate than states without it. But many states without the death penalty had the highest homicide rates-- for example Washington DC, with no death penalty has one of the highest homicide rates per 100,000--15.9. Puerto Rico, also without the penalty, has a whopping 24.4. States that have kept the death penalty had some of the lowest rates, Utah, 1.7; Montana, 2.2; West Virginia, 2.3; Wyoming 2.9, so it is not true that across the board the states with the highest homicide rates are the ones that have kept the death penalty. Although I don't have stats regarding whether rates went up or down in the states that kept the penalty, those that have abolished the penalty were not those with the lowest rates and those that retained it were not the ones with the highest rates. This is where I got the stats: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/state_by_state Lois All I am going to say is try to switch the cause and effect around and apply it to those statements and see if it still fits the observations

Just to clarify. I don’t know what the correct interpretation of this data is and for that matter no one can say so with any authority or certainty. We all tend to infer a causative role that fits our world view when we see a correlation but that doesn’t mean its the correct interpretation. This type of study only serves to cement whatever opinion the reader already has when they view it.

We know that correlation is not causation and we know that there is a tendency to draw conclusions as if it does.
It is still reasonable to conjecture that the death penalty could have some impact on murder rates. In fact, if what is going on, as you suggested, might be that states with higher murder rates are the ones that institute the death penalty, then one of their justifications for having the death penalty would be that it should decrease murder rates. Pardon me, but if the death penalty did, actually, decrease the murder rate, wouldn’t we see the rate of murder going down in states that have the death penalty? IOW, if it were causal there would ALSO be correlational data, i.e., an inverse correlation of murder after the implementation of the death penalty.
So if, we have a governmental institution that kills people, and does not do that in an equitable fashion (in regards to social class), and which cannot do so with the certainty of never killing an innocent person, wouldn’t we want to have really clear data that shows it decreases the murder rate?
Also, I suggest that it is not unreasonable to consider the possibility that since it is okay, in certain circumstances, for the State to kill people, then some persons might be more inclined to think that killing people is not such a terrible thing?
Still, probably, the death penalty doesn’t have a HUGE impact, one way or another on murder rates. But, IMO, it is unacceptable, e.g., for the State to put more poor and black murderers to death than rich white murderers. And that has been happening, consistently. It is also, IMO, unacceptable for the State to put ANY innocent person to death (and that very likely happens). Just recently, it came out that for years the FBI, I think, had many many cases where convictions were made, in part, due to bogus hair analysis. Some of those convicted persons have been put to death. Were they really guilty? We may never know.

We know that correlation is not causation and we know that there is a tendency to draw conclusions as if it does. It is still reasonable to conjecture that the death penalty could have some impact on murder rates. In fact, if what is going on, as you suggested, might be that states with higher murder rates are the ones that institute the death penalty, then one of their justifications for having the death penalty would be that it should decrease murder rates. Pardon me, but if the death penalty did, actually, decrease the murder rate, wouldn't we see the rate of murder going down in states that have the death penalty? IOW, if it were causal there would ALSO be correlational data, i.e., an inverse correlation of murder after the implementation of the death penalty.
While it is reasonable to conjecture it is inaccurate to put any confidence in that conjecture without other evidence to support it especially when there are other equally convincing conjectures. As I said, people tend to draw the conclusion that fits their world view but that doesnt make the conclusion correct. In regards to the statement that we should have seen a drop in the death penalty I think you are again letting your bias creep in. You have no control to compare with here. It is certainly possible that the states with higher violence and murder rates did see a net effect. You wouldnt have to see a drop in murder rates, only a lower murder rate than would have occurred if the death penalty had not been used. That could mean no growth in murders but even an increase in murders could be the positive effect if the increase is less than would have occurred without the death penalty. I am not saying that another conclusion is correct, simply that it is equally likely given the data we have. The data does not lend support to the anti or pro death penalty argument and unfortunately if we are not aware of our own biases it appears to lend support to both sides and just pushes supporters of one view or the other further to the extremes.
We know that correlation is not causation and we know that there is a tendency to draw conclusions as if it does. It is still reasonable to conjecture that the death penalty could have some impact on murder rates. In fact, if what is going on, as you suggested, might be that states with higher murder rates are the ones that institute the death penalty, then one of their justifications for having the death penalty would be that it should decrease murder rates. Pardon me, but if the death penalty did, actually, decrease the murder rate, wouldn't we see the rate of murder going down in states that have the death penalty? IOW, if it were causal there would ALSO be correlational data, i.e., an inverse correlation of murder after the implementation of the death penalty.
While it is reasonable to conjecture it is inaccurate to put any confidence in that conjecture without other evidence to support it especially when there are other equally convincing conjectures. As I said, people tend to draw the conclusion that fits their world view but that doesnt make the conclusion correct. In regards to the statement that we should have seen a drop in the death penalty I think you are again letting your bias creep in. You have no control to compare with here. It is certainly possible that the states with higher violence and murder rates did see a net effect. You wouldnt have to see a drop in murder rates, only a lower murder rate than would have occurred if the death penalty had not been used. That could mean no growth in murders but even an increase in murders could be the positive effect if the increase is less than would have occurred without the death penalty. I am not saying that another conclusion is correct, simply that it is equally likely given the data we have. The data does not lend support to the anti or pro death penalty argument and unfortunately if we are not aware of our own biases it appears to lend support to both sides and just pushes supporters of one view or the other further to the extremes. Well if we don't have good evidence it works, that's reason enough not to do it.
We know that correlation is not causation and we know that there is a tendency to draw conclusions as if it does. It is still reasonable to conjecture that the death penalty could have some impact on murder rates. In fact, if what is going on, as you suggested, might be that states with higher murder rates are the ones that institute the death penalty, then one of their justifications for having the death penalty would be that it should decrease murder rates. Pardon me, but if the death penalty did, actually, decrease the murder rate, wouldn't we see the rate of murder going down in states that have the death penalty? IOW, if it were causal there would ALSO be correlational data, i.e., an inverse correlation of murder after the implementation of the death penalty.
While it is reasonable to conjecture it is inaccurate to put any confidence in that conjecture without other evidence to support it especially when there are other equally convincing conjectures. As I said, people tend to draw the conclusion that fits their world view but that doesnt make the conclusion correct. In regards to the statement that we should have seen a drop in the death penalty I think you are again letting your bias creep in. You have no control to compare with here. It is certainly possible that the states with higher violence and murder rates did see a net effect. You wouldnt have to see a drop in murder rates, only a lower murder rate than would have occurred if the death penalty had not been used. That could mean no growth in murders but even an increase in murders could be the positive effect if the increase is less than would have occurred without the death penalty. I am not saying that another conclusion is correct, simply that it is equally likely given the data we have. The data does not lend support to the anti or pro death penalty argument and unfortunately if we are not aware of our own biases it appears to lend support to both sides and just pushes supporters of one view or the other further to the extremes. Well if we don't have good evidence it works, that's reason enough not to do it. There you go. The evidence that Lois initially presented is not enough (as MacGyver is always correct in noting) to say that the death penalty causes an increase in murder or that it causes a decrease in murder. But it seems to me that it strongly suggests that there is not a clear suppressing effect. If you do something that is as extreme as killing people, the absence of a clear justification for doing so, is enough to say not to kill people, i.e., end the death penalty. But, again, regardless of the data that Lois presented, even if the death penalty had a strong suppressant effect on murder rates, (please, anyone, show the data if that is the case) we must still consider whether life imprisonment works just as well. If so, I suggest, the death penalty is not the morally best way to save net lives. And even if rigorous valid research showed that the death penalty did save more net lives, it would still remain to decide whether saving net lives is morally justifiable in a system that is clearly not equitable for some alleged murderers vs. other classes of alleged murderers. AND whether it is morally justifiable when the system does not 100% guarantee that the death penalty will never be inflicted upon an innocent person. Or we could just go on arguing about the technicalities of what data suggest.
Well if we don't have good evidence it works, that's reason enough not to do it.
That may be true but there are obviously reasons other than deterrence that the death penalty exists. While i don't believe that the death penalty leads to more violence I also doubt its effectiveness as a deterrent. Many murders are not premeditated and among those that are I am sure many of the murderers think they will never be caught (which is often true). the death penalty obviously will have little effect on these types of murders. If the death penalty is not an effective deterrent we still have to address the other reasons that motivate people to support it. Whether you agree with it or not, killing someone who commits an incredibly heinous crime does provide some relief for some of the families of the victims in a way they would not be achieved if the person were simply given a life sentence. I don't have to describe them here but we have all read about crimes over the years that were the stuff of nightmares even for those of us who didn't have to actually live through them. We can't begin imagine the pain and suffering these individuals actually went through or the torment that their surviving families go through every day. We can talk about uncertainty and grey areas but there are some cases where none of this exists. There are cases where there is no doubt who committed the crime and no doubt about the horror of the act. If we limit our discussion to just those cases then I think its more difficult to say the death penalty should never be used. The families of these victims did not ask to be put through the torment of reliving their loved ones nightmare every day. The monster who killed their wife, husband, daughter etc one created it. If ending the life of that monster would make their remaining days less painful then maybe its not always wrong.
Well if we don't have good evidence it works, that's reason enough not to do it.
That may be true but there are obviously reasons other than deterrence that the death penalty exists. While i don't believe that the death penalty leads to more violence I also doubt its effectiveness as a deterrent. Many murders are not premeditated and among those that are I am sure many of the murderers think they will never be caught (which is often true). the death penalty obviously will have little effect on these types of murders. If the death penalty is not an effective deterrent we still have to address the other reasons that motivate people to support it. Whether you agree with it or not, killing someone who commits an incredibly heinous crime does provide some relief for some of the families of the victims in a way they would not be achieved if the person were simply given a life sentence. I don't have to describe them here but we have all read about crimes over the years that were the stuff of nightmares even for those of us who didn't have to actually live through them. We can't begin imagine the pain and suffering these individuals actually went through or the torment that their surviving families go through every day. We can talk about uncertainty and grey areas but there are some cases where none of this exists. There are cases where there is no doubt who committed the crime and no doubt about the horror of the act. If we limit our discussion to just those cases then I think its more difficult to say the death penalty should never be used. The families of these victims did not ask to be put through the torment of reliving their loved ones nightmare every day. The monster who killed their wife, husband, daughter etc one created it. If ending the life of that monster would make their remaining days less painful then maybe its not always wrong. I used to be for the death penalty and did not change my position, lightly. Clearly, it prevents that particular person from harming anyone else. Also I have no emotional qualms about putting to death someone who has purposely caused the horrific deaths of others. But our system for administering the death sentence is fundamentally flawed. Our criminal justice system has been, is, and shows no signs of not continuing to be slanted in favor of persons who have resources. Even persons accused of horrendous monstrous murders, who have resources are more likely to avoid more severe punishment compared to those who don't have resources. In addition, our criminal justice system is not and cannot be perfect in determining that everyone who is executed is guilty. As a society, I do not think that it is healthy for us to continue to administer the death penalty under these conditions. There are other ways to support victims than by putting to death a monstrous (but still human) person that has been determined beyond a "reasonable doubt" to be the heinous perpetrator. But I do have strong empathic skills and a pretty good imagination, so I can imagine the emotional drive to kill such a perpetrator, and I could easily imagine cruel and unusual ways to do so that might even make Stephen King wince. But there are certain drives and emotional based behavior that must be suppressed in a civil society. In regards to this topic, I have come to the conclusion that implementing the death penalty is one of those, that should be suppressed, for the reasons I have repeatedly stated in this thread.

MacGyver wanted to show that correlation does not mean causation, which is a worthy goal, but on this one point, that the states that kept the death penalty might have been driven by a higher rate of homocides, it is clearly not the case.
The only point I was trying to make in my last post is that, contrary to what MacGyver suggested, the states that have kept the death penalty are not the ones with the highest numbers of homicides.
This was what MacGyver wrote; “There are at least four possible interpretations here but in my opinion the most likely one is the one that hasn’t been mentioned ie. That more violent states with more murders are more likely to invoke the death penalty. In other words rather than the death penalty leading to more murders, more murders and violence may instead lead to a citizenry that is more willing to invoke the death penalty.”
That theory doesn’t hold up.
I am well aware that sometimes statistics can mean what we want them to mean, and it works the same way for people on both sides of the issue, but you can’t deny this one point–that most states that have kept the death penalty are NOT the ones with the highest homicide rates. Even if statistics get twisted by one side or the other, that particular point is NOT a result of twisting or misinterpreting the statistics.
For the record, I did not present the statistics to support my opinion that the death penalty should be ended. I presented them because I thought they were interesting phenomenon–that is all.
The rate of homicides may or may not be affected by whether there is a death penalty. But that is not my reason for thinking we should drop the death penalty. My reason has nothing to do with homicide statistics at all–it has to to do with my opinion that no government should have the right to kill people in cold blood, no matter what they may have done. Life in prison should be penalty enough. No statistics are necessary for that point of view on the death penalty.
Lois

Lois I have to disagree with you here. You can’t have it both ways. Your original post makes the following statements

So your comment that "the states that have kept the death penalty are not the ones with the highest numbers of homicides. " is not factually correct using the data you supplied. and "you can’t deny this one point—that most states that have kept the death penalty are NOT the ones with the highest homicide rates. " There is nothing in the data you supplied that would support your statement.
In regards to your comment “For the record, I did not present the statistics to support my opinion that the death penalty should be ended” I never said you did this. All I said is that people could use this data to support either point of view.
As to this comment "My reason has nothing to do with homicide statistics at all—it has to to do with my opinion that no government should have the right to kill people in cold blood, no matter what they may have done. Life in prison should be penalty enough. No statistics are necessary for that point of view on the death penalty. "
You are correct, but people who support the death penalty could say that their “point of view” is equally valid. I’m not sure we can move the conversation one direction or the other if we all just state our opinion.

I don’t think that it is just my opinion that our criminal justice system is inequitable for different social classes. Nor is it just my opinion that an innocent person/s has been and/or will be executed by the state.
Thus all that is needed (to conclude that the death penalty should be banned) are persons who believe that the death penalty is not acceptable under this on-going circumstance. I’ve heard it said that science can’t tell us what we should do. (i.e., moral questions require more than just data). We have to know what we collectively value. Do we collectively value each human life? Do we collectively value justice? If so, can we achieve that by executing people based on an inequitable system that can also not guarantee that an innocent person won’t be executed?
IF there were clear data that the death penalty saves net lives, perhaps we could make the decision, while retaining our valuing human life, to continue with the death penalty. But there is no such data AFAIK.

I don't think that it is just my opinion that our criminal justice system is inequitable for different social classes. Nor is it just my opinion that an innocent person/s has been and/or will be executed by the state. Thus all that is needed (to conclude that the death penalty should be banned) are persons who believe that the death penalty is not acceptable under this on-going circumstance. I've heard it said that science can't tell us what we should do. (i.e., moral questions require more than just data). We have to know what we collectively value. Do we collectively value each human life? Do we collectively value justice? If so, can we achieve that by executing people based on an inequitable system that can also not guarantee that an innocent person won't be executed? IF there were clear data that the death penalty saves net lives, perhaps we could make the decision, while retaining our valuing human life, to continue with the death penalty. But there is no such data AFAIK.
I agree that the current system is unfair and that innocent people probably are sometimes convicted and even executed. I also agree that the current situation is completely unacceptable. While those statements alone can bring us to the conclusion that the death penalty under the current system is wrong it does not in itself mean that the death penalty is always wrong because the conclusion is based on more than just numbers on a ledger sheet. Crime deterrence by criminals is only one reason to maintain a criminal justice system. There are other reasons that are just as important. It is just as important for the system to create a perception of justice so that private individuals don't feel compelled to take the law into their own hands. I am simply saying that a black and white approach to this problem may not be satisfactory to everyone. I don't support the complete abolition of the death penalty. I truly believe there are some people who are such total monsters and where the evidence is so overwhelming that society has a right to take their life. That probably represents a very small number of the people on death row but I think its possible we could come up with better guidelines that would protect someone from the death penalty if they didnt meet certain guidelines in terms of certainty of guilt and depraved indifference to pain and suffering of their victim. I don;t think life without parole is sufficient punishment under the current system for some of these people. Charles Manson for instance has been allowed to communicate, influence, and carry on relationships with people outside of prison to the extent that a young woman became engaged to him recently (although that has since been called off). I think if we are going to put these types of criminals in jail for ever it should be solitary confinement with no human contact internally or externally for the rest of their lives so they have no option to influence or harm anyone every again. Families might be able to forgo the death penalty if they knew the person was down in a hole with no access to the outside world or to other people who might be twisted enough to try and help them escape or commit crimes by proxy.