A man had to answer for the wicked that he done.
Take all the rope in Texas, find a tall oak tree,
Round up all of them bad boys, hang them high in the street,
For all the people to see that
Justice is the one thing you should always find.
TOBY KEITH AND SCOTT EMERICK, [BEER FOR MY HORSES]
Capital punishment is supposed to serve the purposes of social defense and retribution. The argument that it deters or incapacitates dangerous offenders was not conclusively supported, and analysis of data herein failed to provide solid evidence for the death penalty as a mechanism of social defense. Comparative analysis could not show that the death penalty reduces homicide rates any more successfully than life imprisonment. Still, it is possible that the death penalty acts as a general deterrent, preventing others from committing homicides, but it may simply be impossible to empirically measure the effect of an event that did not occur. It was also diffi cult to show the necessity of the death penalty for incapacitating dangerous offenders. Although it is certain that without the death penalty some capital murderers would commit violent acts in the future, only a small percentage of those who have been given a second chance have actually committed further violent acts, particularly murder. And the existence of the death penalty has not completely prevented capital murderers from committing further acts of violence or murder.
The strongest argument in favor of retaining capital punishment lies in its retributive purpose. Whether capital punishment is a legitimate way to punish offenders is a moral issue that is in many ways beyond the bounds of empirical research and the scope of this work. Nonetheless, numerous indicators support the use of the death penalty for retribution. First, public-opinion data indicate