Evidence shows death penalty does not deter crime. Yet politicians still call for it.

March 13, 2019 - 2:37 PM
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crime scene pixabay
In this photo: A crime scene tape (Pixabay/Gerd Altmann)

The rape-slay case of a grade 9 female student in Cebu revived calls on Twitter to enforce capital punishment for heinous crimes like rape despite previous evidence showing that the death penalty does not deter crime.

Late dictator Ferdinand Marcos imposed the death sentence in the country from 1965 to 1986.

It was abolished via the 1987 Constitution during former President Corazon Aquino’s time.

In 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte sought to reinstate it to instill fear and discipline among criminals and rebels.

However, various studies have shown that death penalty either by hanging, lethal injection or any other means is not effective in preventing crime.

A study in 2009 titled “Do executions lower homicide rates: the views of leading criminologists” revealed that majority of criminal experts or criminologists they interviewed disagreed that death penalty can act as a deterrent or can lower the murder rate.

Results showed that 88 percent of criminologists they interviewed disagreed that death penalty can act as a deterrent to murder.

“In short, the consensus among criminologists is that the death penalty does not add any significant deterrent effect above that of long-term imprisonment,” researchers Michael Radelet and Traci Lacock said.

Moreover, 52 percent agreed that politicians in general support capital punishment “as a symbolic way” to show their tough stance against crime.

These findings discredited claims of professors and economists published in articles in the New York Times and the Washington Post that state otherwise.

An article from the American Civil Liberties Union also explained that enforcing death penalty is similar to the criminals’ motive of devaluing human life.

“In civilized society, we reject the principle of literally doing to criminals what they do to their victims: The penalty for rape cannot be rape, or for arson, the burning down of the arsonist’s house. We should not, therefore, punish the murderer with death,” it said.

It also concurred with the earlier conclusion of no strong evidence associating lower crime rates due to imposing death sentence.

“No, there is no credible evidence that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than long terms of imprisonment. States that have death penalty laws do not have lower crime rates or murder rates than states without such laws. And states that have abolished capital punishment show no significant changes in either crime or murder rates,” it said.

According to Amnesty International, 142 countries have abolished death penalty either in law or in practice for human rights purposes.

The United Nations also marked a World Day against Death Penalty to raise awareness on the plight of prisoners on death row.

In the Philippines, a survey conducted by the Social Weather Station in 2018 showed that six in every 10 Filipinos agreed on restoring death penalty for people who committed heinous crimes.

In particular, 47 percent of Filipinos demand capital punishment to be imposed for rapists under the influence of drugs.

However, the bill to reinstate this which had just been approved at the Lower House only includes persons found in possession of illegal drugs at social gatherings or meetings.

When it was first proposed in 2016, rape, murder, treason, infanticide and other criminal acts were considered to be punishable by death.

Justice

Reports tell of a 16-year-old girl who was brutally killed when she was on her way home from the church in the municipality of Lapu-lapu in Cebu.

Filipinos expressed their condolences and sadness over the incident.

Others criticized those who shared the gruesome photos of the girl’s death on social media.