Local Research: The Death Penalty Does Not Deter Murder

June 17 2009, 10:26 AM

spread_killing_s1Eighty-eight percent of the nation's top criminologists say the death penalty does not deter murder, according to a new study by Michael Radelet, chairman of the University of Colorado's sociology department, and attorney Traci Lacock, (via Boulder's Daily Camera). "Any justifications for the death penalty that might remain pale in comparison to drawbacks such as high costs, arbitrariness, executing the innocent and diverting resources from more effective ways to reduce crime and assist victims," Radelet says (via press release). Seventy-five percent of those polled in the study additionally say "debates about the death penalty distract Congress and state legislatures from focusing on real solutions to crime problems." The study comes on the heels of another Coloradan recently placed on death row and as state lawmakers failed to ban capital punishment (via 5280). The state Legislature may take up the issue again next year, writes Denver Post columnist Mike Littwin, who explores the issue of whether Colorado will be better off for using the death penalty. The case of Nathan Dunlap, who was convicted for the massacre at a Chuck E. Cheese in Aurora more than 15 years ago, illustrates the complexities of using death as punishment in Colorado, as featured in 5280's "The Politics of Killing."

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