As I’ve written in the past, capital punishment has a deterrence effect. It provides information to potential criminals as to the consequence of their actions. One execution has been estimated to prevent between eight to twenty four murders.
BUT it doesn’t matter if the person being executed is guilty or innocent! So long as someone is killed for every murder (and it is likely they were the murderer) then it provides sufficient disincentives to would be murderers.
I find this hard to believe. Who would differentiate between a life time in prison or being executed, and consider the difference enough of an incentive not to murder someone? Seriously. I’ve watched a few episodes of Oz and not many of the characters lasted very long anyway!
Regardless, the US has executed more than 1200 offenders between 1976 and now. Michael P. Stafford explains that
“During this same period, almost 140 convicts on death row have been exonerated of their crimes. These figures are troubling. The number of individuals on death row that have been exonerated is almost 12% of the total number of offenders executed. As George Will noted in 2000, capital punishment in America “is a catalog of appalling miscarriages of justice, some of them nearly lethal. Their cumulative weight compels the conclusion that many innocent people are in prison, and innocent people have been executed.””
Well, at least it is more probable than not that the people they are killing are guilty – its not like more than 50 per cent of people are guilty.