The Deterrence Effect of the Death Penalty

TheDeterrence Effect of the Death Penalty


Thedeath penalty is perceivable as the legal sanction of tolerating theimposition of the death punishment for persons found guilty ofparticular crimes (The Free Dictionary, 2016). The deterrence theoryposits that people’s choice to act criminally is dependent on therational estimation of the anticipated rewards of law-breakingvis-à-vis the possible costs of the law (Jennings &amp Mieczkowski,2011, p. 2). Courts can only impose death penalties on perpetratorsif the law obliges them to do so (Gupta, 2013, p. 666). Opponents ofthe death penalty have forwarded it as an ineffective deterrent tocrime however, the advocates of capital punishment contend that thistype of sentence can be powerful if particular changes areimplemented.

Thedeath penalty can only work effectively as a deterrent to crime ifpunishment is imposed in a swift, severe, and certain manner (Carter,2013, p. 509). The United States has been documented to have thehighest per capita homicide rates in the world, in spite of having alaw that supports the death penalty. This assertion downplays theeffectiveness of capital punishment. However, advocates contend thatthe reason for such a state of play is because the law takes too longto execute punishment on the offender. Implementing laws such as theAnti-Terrorist Bill or the Effective Death Penalty has been proven towork successfully in deterring crime.

Ina recap of the above discussion, the antagonists of the death penaltyhave promoted it as a futile deterrent to crime however, thesupporters of capital punishment assert that this type of sentencecan be useful if specific changes are implemented. Capital punishmentcan only deter crime if people perceive the effects of actingcriminally as more costly than the benefits, as discussed above.


Carter,C. (2013).&nbspLandscapes&nbsp(p.509). Boston, Mass.: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

Gupta,M. (2013). What are the Pros and Cons of Death Penalty? Which Methodof Execution is Best?.IndianJournal of Clinical Practice,&nbsp23(10),666. Retrieved from

Jennings,W. &amp Mieczkowski, T. (2011). Mechanisms of Legal Effect:Perspectives from Criminology, 2. Retrieved from

TheFree Dictionary. (2016).&nbspDeathPenalty.& 4 September 2016, from