THE INCAPACITATION AND THE DETERRENT EFFECTS Essay

This essay has a total of 3310 words and 14 pages.


THE INCAPACITATION AND THE DETERRENT EFFECTS





The incapacitation effect saves lives - that is, that by executing murderers you prevent
them from murdering again and do, thereby, save innocent life (B.1-4, 7, 9, 10 & 15). The
evidence of this is conclusive and incontrovertible. Furthermore, the individual deterrent
effect also proves that executions save innocent life (B.7-9 & 11-18). This effect
represents those potential murderers who did not murder under specific circumstances
because of their fear of execution. There are many, perhaps thousands, of such documented
cases, representing many innocent lives saved by the fear of execution. Circumstances
dictate that the majority of these cases will never be documented and that the number of
innocent lives saved by individual deterrence will be, and has been, much greater than we
will ever be able to calculate. Finally, there are more than 30 years of respected
academic studies which reveal a general, or systemic, deterrent effect, meaning that there
is statistical proof that executions produce fewer murders (B. 7-9 & 11-18). However, such
studies are inconclusive because there are also studies that find no such effect - not
surprising, as the U.S. has executed only 0.08% of their murderers since 1973. Because
such studies are inconclusive, we must choose the option that may save innocent lives.
For, if there is a general deterrent effect, and we do execute, then we are saving
innocent lives. But, if there is a general deterrent effect and we don’t execute
murderers, we are sacrificing innocent lives. If our judgement is in error regarding
general deterrence, then such error must be made on the side of saving innocent lives and
not on the side of sacrificing innocent lives. This is a moral imperative. Furthermore,
the individual deterrent effect could not exist without the general deterrent effect bring
present. The individual deterrent effect is proven. Therefore, even though it may be
statistically elusive, the general deterrent effect is proven by individual deterrence.
Individually and collectively, these three effects present a strong morale argument for
executions. Executions save lives. Period. Our choice is to spare the lives of the
murderers and to, thereby, sacrifice the lives of the innocent or to execute those
murderers and to, thereby, spare the lives of the innocent. What do you choose?


The test for deterrence is not whether executions produce lower murder rates, but that
executions produce fewer murders than if the death penalty did not exist. For example, the
fact that the state of Delaware executes more people per capita (1/87,500) than any other
state and has a murder rate 16 times lower than Washington, D.C. (5/100,000 vs
78.5/100,000) is not proof, per se, that the death penalty deters murder in Delaware or
that the lack of the death penalty escalates murders and violent crime in Washington,
D.C., which has the highest violent crime and murder rates in the U.S. Be careful how you
explain and understand deterrence.


1) The argument that murderers are the least likely of all criminals to repeat their
crimes is not only irrelevant, but also increasingly false. 6% of young adults paroled in
1978 after having been convicted of murder were arrested for murder again within 6 years
of release. ("Recidivism of Young Parolees," 4, 1987, BJS). Murderers have so violated the
human rights of their victims and of society that it should be a moral imperative that
they never again have that opportunity.


2) Obviously, those executed can’t murder again. "Of the roughly 52,000 state
prison inmates serving time for murder in 1984, an estimated 810 had previously been
convicted of murder and had killed 821 persons following their previous murder
convictions. Executing each of these inmates would have saved 821 lives." (41, 1 Stanford
Law Review, 11/88, pg. 153) Using a 75% murder clearance rate, it is most probable that
the actual number of lives saved would have been 1026, or fifty times the number legally
executed that year. This suggests that some 10,000 persons have been murdered, since 1971,
by those who had previously committed additional murders (JFA). See B.5.


3) Death penalty opponents spend millions of dollars and countless man hours fighting the
legal execution of, at most, 56 of our worst human rights violators per year, when they do
nothing to fight for the end of those inhumane parole and probation release policies which
result in the needless injury and slaughter of the innocent. "The U.S. Department of
Justice estimates that convicted criminals free on parole and probation . . . commit
‘at least’ 84,800 violent crimes every year, including 13,200 murders, 12,900
rapes, and 49,500 robberies." American Guardian, May 1997, pg. 26. Incredibly, this
slaughter does not include violent crimes committed by repeat offenders who are released
and who are not on "supervision". Where is the compassion in honoring the previous
victim’s suffering and in protecting the human rights of future victims?
Opponents’ actions show virtually no compassion for the victims of violent crime or
concern for future victims, yet, they exhibit overwhelming support for those who violate
our human rights and murder our loved ones.


4) 9-15% of those on death row committed, at least, one additional murder, prior to that
murder (or those murders) which has currently put them on death row; 67% had a prior
felony conviction; 42% had an active criminal justice status when they committed their
capital offense; 14% of those sentenced to death from 1988-94, had received two or more
death sentences ("Capital Punishment 1994", BJS 1995 & JFA). Should we err on the side of
caution and protect the innocent and honor the memories of those murdered or should we
give murderers the opportunity to harm again? Should we put prison personnel and other
prisoners at any additional risk from known murderers? Prisoners on death row are 250%
more likely to murder, in prison, than are prisoners in the general population. Lester,
D., "Suicide and Homicide on Death Row", American Journal of Psychiatry, 143, 559, 1986.


5) The expected punishment for murder was only 1.5 years in 1985 and rose to only 2.7
years in 1995! (THE REYNOLD’S REPORT, "Crime and Punishment in the U.S.", National
Center for Policy Analysis, 1997). Expected punishment is calculated by measuring the
probability of being caught, incarcerated, and time served. Why have we chosen to be so
generous to murderers and so contemptuous of the human rights and suffering of the victims
and future victims? See B. 2.


6) For a criminal justice system to have credibility and deterrent value, two factors are
required: (1) a high rate of arrest and (2) punishment which reflects the severity of the
crime, the criminal’s record and the demand for justice. The U.S. system has
neither. Of the 10.3 million violent crimes in 1993, only 100,000 of those victimizations,
or 1%, resulted in an actual jail sentence. Only 6.2% of all violent crimes result in
arrest. (Prof. John J. DiIulio, Jr., Princeton Univ. 1995, The State of Violent Crime in
America, 1/96 and Criminal Victimization 1993 , BJS, 1995.) The human rights of victims
and future victims are consistently ignored.


7) With no death penalty and only life without parole (LWOP), there is no deterrent for
LWOP inmates killing others while in prison or after escape. Indeed, there is actually a
positive incentive to murder if a criminal has committed a LWOP offense and had not yet
been captured. Currently, there are a

number of inmates who have killed numerous people in prison or after escape. Their
punishment could not be increased because there is no death penalty in those states.
Therefore, they will never be punished for those crimes. Never. Totally unacceptable, by
any standard. Not surprisingly, death penalty opponents believe that LWOP is more severe
than the death penalty. Hamilton, V., & Rakin, L.: "Interpreting the 8th Amendment",
Bedau, H., & Pierce, C., ed., Capital Punishment in the United States, New York, AMS,
1976. This absurd belief, which has now become the newest mantra of opponents, is
contradicted by all other surveyed groups, including prisoners (B.11 & 16).


8) Death Penalty opponents claim that there is a "brutalization effect" with executions,
meaning, that executions show a low regard for human life and do, thereby, cause an
increase in the murder rate. If the brutalization effect is real, it would be the only
known legal sanction to cause an increase in wrongful behavior. Why would criminals become
more likely to engage in illegal activities because the punishments for those activities
become more severe? How absurd. Have dramatic increases in the rates of incarceration
resulted in dramatic increases in kidnappings? Just the opposite. Further denouncing the
brutalization effect is the fact that many respected studies show that executions do
produce an individual and a general deterrent effect. And, there is, of course, common
sense.


9) There are four rational conclusions one can make regarding general, or systemic,
deterrence. (1) If the death penalty is not a deterrent and we execute, then we are
executing our worst human rights violators. (2) If the death penalty is a deterrent and we
execute, then we are executing those criminals and saving innocent lives. (3) If the death
penalty is not a deterrent and we don’t execute, then we are not sacrificing
innocent lives. (4) If the death penalty is a deterrent and we don’t execute, then
we are sacrificing innocent lives. Regarding deterrence, it is necessary to err on the
side of saving innocent life and not to err on the side of sacrificing innocent life.
These are moral imperatives.


10) There are two mistakes we can make with those convicted of violent crimes. First, we
can misjudge their character and keep them incarcerated too long, when they could have
become constructive free persons, repaying even more their debt to society and to their
victim(s). Secondly, we can misjudge their character and release them too soon, so that
they further destroy the lives of our children, our brothers and sisters, our spouses and
our parents, creating additional economic, physical, emotional and spiritual loss. For far
too long, the U.S. has chosen to err on the side of those who have violated our human
rights and has, thereby, expanded the river of blood and tears for victims and their
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