The National Review’s John O’Sullivan provides his views on the capital punishment debate. I agree with much of his analysis, but I’m skeptical of a statistical study O’Sullivan cites showing that each execution deters between eight and twenty-eight murders. Most studies do not find a significant deterrent effect under the current regime. But that is almost surely because, under the current regime, the death penalty is not carried out often enough to deter. O’Sullivan is on more solid ground when he argues that the death penalty is sometimes the only punishment that seems equal to the horror of a particular crime, and when he points out that there are no known cases of a wrongful executiion in the U.S. since the death penalty was restored in 1976.
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