The Death Penalty is NOT an Effective Deterrent Essay

2050 Words 9 Pages
The issue of the death penalty has been of great concern and debate for a number of years now. Prior to 1976, the death penalty was banned in the United States. In 1976, though, the ban was lifted, and many states adopted the death penalty in their constitutions. Currently, there are 38 states that use the death penalty, and only 12 states that do not. The states that have the death penalty use a number of ways to go about executing the defendant. Thirty-two states use lethal injection, 10 use electrocution, 6 use the gas chamber, 2 use hanging, and 2 states use a firing squad (Death Penalty Information Center, 1997). The 12 states that do not have the death penalty are Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota …show more content…
In contrast, the question of deterrence can be answered objectively using common sense and statistics. By analyzing different arguments for and against the death penalty, such as the "fear of death" myth, the cost of the death penalty, and the racial and economic bias of the death penalty, it can be shown that the death penalty is not an effective deterrent of crime.

The deterrence argument states that, "although executing the murderer neither prevents the death of the victim nor restores their life, instating the death penalty effectively prevents the deaths of other victims" (Nathanson, 1987). On the surface, this seems like a convincing argument, because of course, if the murderer is dead, then he/she will not kill again. The question is, though, does the death penalty prevent the potential killer from ever killing in the first place? Is it more effective than other forms of punishment? Supporters of the death penalty argue that the death penalty ensures that the murderer will not strike again. But doesn't life in prison without parole do the same?

Proponents of the deterrence argument say that the death penalty prevents murders because the killers, like everyone else, have a fear of death (Nathanson, 1987). I do not believe that this is a valid statement. Everyone does things that are risks to his/her life. Driving a car, riding a bike, rock climbing, swimming, smoking; we do these things for the need to get places, for adventure, excitement,…