Could Quicker Executions Deter Homicides? The Relationship between Celerity, Capital Punishment, and Murder

Could Quicker Executions Deter Homicides? The Relationship between Celerity, Capital Punishment, and Murder

Could Quicker Executions Deter Homicides? The Relationship between Celerity, Capital Punishment, and Murder

Could Quicker Executions Deter Homicides? The Relationship between Celerity, Capital Punishment, and Murder

Synopsis

Wright examines whether waits for executions impact the deterrent value of capital punishment. She also seeks to determine whether race has a role in producing or inhibiting deterrence. She asks whether blacks and whites are equally responsive to how quickly executions are carried out, as well as, whether the effect of celerity varies with the race of the executed. Longer waits on death row are not related to murders. Indeed, executions and having individuals on death row may be contributing to higher rates of homicides. In states and years where there are no executions, homicides among blacks are about thirty-six percent lower, and in states and years without anyone on death row white homicide rates are about forty percent lower.

Excerpt

The amount of time inmates sentenced to death spend waiting to be executed in the United States has nearly doubled during the past two decades. For example, in 1985 death row inmates spent an average of seventy-one months (5.9 years) on death row from the time they were sentenced to the actual execution. in 1990, 2000, 2005, and 2007 the average number of months spent on death row increased to ninety-five (7.92 years), 137 (11.42 years), 147 months (12.25 years), and 153 months (12.75 years) respectively (Bureau of Justice Statistics 2008). Currently, nearly 40 men have served at least 20 years on death row (Mann 2010). California has the longest delay between sentence and execution of any death penalty state with inmates spending an average of over seventeen years on death row. Currently California has nearly 697 people awaiting execution. Thirty of them have been on California’s death row for over twenty-five years, 119 for at least twenty years, and 240 people have been on California’s death row . . .

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