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By definition, it is difficult to obtain a reliable answer to this question.
A -ABC News poll in mid-2014 found that more Americans support life sentences, rather than the death penalty, for convicted murderers.
Further, recent polls from the Pew Research Center indicate that only a bare majority of Americans now support capital punishment, 55%, down from 78% in 1996.
Why has the research not been able to provide any definitive answers about the impact of the death penalty?
One general challenge is that when it comes to capital punishment, a counter-factual policy is simply not observable.
They conclude: “Imposing certain assumptions implies that adoption of a death penalty statute increases homicide, but other assumptions imply that the death penalty deters it.
Thus, society at large can draw strong conclusions only if there is a consensus favoring particular assumptions.” However, even though the authors do not arrive at a definitive conclusion, the National Research Council Committee notes that this type of research holds some value: “Rather than imposing the strong but unsupported assumptions required to identify the effect of capital punishment on homicides in a single model or an ad hoc set of similar models, approaches that explicitly account for model uncertainty may provide a constructive way for research to provide credible albeit incomplete answers.” Another strategy researchers have taken is to limit the focus of studies on potential short-term effects of the death penalty.
Scholarly research sheds light on a number of important aspects of this issue: False convictions One key reason for the contentious debate is the concern that states are executing innocent people.
How many people are unjustly facing the death penalty?
To conduct an updated review, the NRC formed the Committee on Deterrence and the Death Penalty, comprised of academics from economics departments and public policy schools from institutions around the country, including the Carnegie Mellon University, University of Chicago and Duke University.
In 2012, the Committee published an updated report that concluded that not much had changed in recent decades: “Research conducted in the 30 years since the earlier NRC report has not sufficiently advanced knowledge to allow a conclusion, however qualified, about the effect of the death penalty on homicide rates.” The report goes on to recommend that none of the reviewed reports be used to influence public policy decisions on the death penalty.