Denver’s homicide rate jumped 50 percent this year. Police are baffled. The increase is not the result of gangs, guns or drugs. In fact, fewer than half of the homicides involved handguns. If there is a common denominator, according to Denver homicide captain David Abrams, it might be that:

“Most of them are driven by emotion, conflicts and arguments.”

When people are in a state of rage, or otherwise lose control, they aren’t thinking about consequences. They just follow their impulses and strike out. Which renders the theory that increased punishment — including the death penalty — is a deterrant a fallacious one.