Is the Death Penalty Ethical?

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People are born into different beliefs and understanding of many worldly controversial topics. One of those topics is the death penalty. When a question is raised on such a topic, there are many ideas that are sparked. One controversial question that people ponder on is; is the death penalty an ethical way of reducing crime? It is interesting not only to see different opinions but to see data that supports and complements those opinions. Searching for information I came across three different arguments concerning the topic of the death penalty and its ability to reduce crime ethically. The first argument was made by two men John J. Donohue and Justin Wolfers. Their argument is that we can be sure that the death penalty does not cause or eliminate large numbers of homicides or other sort’s of violence making it an unethical way of reducing crime. The second argument according to Hashem Dezhbakhsh and Paul H. Rubin is that the results suggest that capital punishment has a strong deterrent effect; each execution results, on average, in 18 fewer murders. This information supports the ethical reduction in crime through a death penalty. Atul Gawande on the other hand argues in his book Better that the death penalty it a good way to reduce crime but he raises questions on whether the execution was done on someone guilty or someone who was wrongly accused.

The first argument was started by assessing a series of evidence, comparing the history of executions and homicides, in the United States and Canada. This was done by two men, John J. Donohue and Justin Wolfers who were interested in answering the question “does the death penalty save lives?” this led the two men to conduct a research analyzing all the data that could be gathered. Th...

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Works Cited

Gawande, Atul. Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance. New York, NY: Picador USA, 2008. Print.

Dezhbakhsh, Hashem, Paul Rubin, and Joanna Shepherd. "Does Capital Punishment Have a Deterrent Effect? New Evidence from Post-moratorium Panel Data." (2000): 1-49. Web. 16 Feb 2011.


Donohue, John, and Justin Wolfers. "USES AND ABUSES OF EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE IN THE DEATH PENALTY DEBATE." STANFORD LAW REVIEW 58:791. (2006): 791-846. Web. 16 Feb 2011. .

Fagan, Jeffrey. "Capital Punishment: Deterrent Effects & Capital Costs." Columbia Law School. N.p., 2011. Web. 16 Feb 2011. .
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