Texas ‘Orgy of Executions’ May Reduce Murders

There’s no consensus among studies that have sought to determine how effective the death penalty is as a deterrent. But the latest look at the numbers, focused on our own state of Texas, suggests that there’s a slight decline in the number of murders: a reduction of 0.5 to 2.5 homicides in a month following an execution.

Among the states, only Texas executes enough people in a year to be studied this way, according to the sociologists. I trust that they properly controlled for any number of other variables that may have affected the data, which came from the years 1994 to 2005. But I pay a reasonable amount of attention to the daily news, and I don’t think I’m aware of every time there’s an execution.

We put criminals to death so frequently in our state (looks like we average more than two a month) that it’s not really treated as big news, is it? Unless the person was convicted for some notorious local crime? I hate to sound crass about the government taking the life of a human being, but news of executions is lost like white noise in our media reports.

Do potential murderers pay much closer attention to the news than I do? If the study is to be believed, I guess they do.

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