Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate

By John J. Donohue / Stanford Law Review / Justin Wolfers, on 1 January 2005

Over much of the last half-century, the legal and political history of the death penalty in the United States has closely paralleled the debate within social science about its efficacy as a deterrent. The injection of Ehrlich’s conclusions into the legal and public policy arenas, coupled with the academic debate over Ehrlich’s methods, led the National Academy of Sciences to issue a 1978 report which argued that the existing evidence in support of a deterrent effect of capital punishment was unpersuasive. Over the next two decades, as a series of academic papers continued to debate the deterrence question, the number of executions gradually increased, albeit to levels much lower than those seen in the first half of the twentieth century

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Deterrence ,