Friday, May 16, 2008

Does the death penalty save lives? (part 1)

A few days ago, I argued that liberals should support the death penalty because it saves innocent people's lives by deterring murder. But that all hinged on a new crop of empirical studies. That means a lot is riding on the supposedly improved statistical methods. If those methods don't hold up, the argument doesn't hold up. So why should we believe the studies?

First, I think it's worth noting that many death-penalty opponents have no qualms about making the most elementary statistical blunders. They often flatly assert that the death penalty is not a deterrent because the states that have the death penalty have more homicide than non-death-penalty states.

They don't point out that the four-year nationwide abolition of the death penalty in the United States was correlated with skyrocketing homicides (see the second chart in this blog post). Now, that doesn't prove that abolishing the death penalty increased homicides, but by the same token, the higher homicide rate in death-penalty states doesn't prove that the death penalty increases homicides.

So there should be something more than sheer correlation. It looked to me like the new studies went beyond that: the write-up in the New York Times mentioned "multiple regression analysis" by "sophisticated econometricians" and so on.

But John Donohue and Justin Wolfers wrote a law review article that purported to demolish these studies (PDF). (Thanks to LemmusLemmus for bringing this to my attention.)

Unfortunately, I can't understand 90% of it. So I was going to skip that as blog fodder. I prefer to blog about things that I have some comprehension of.

Well, even though I have no idea if Donohue and Wolfers's analyses of "instrumental variables estimates" and "panel data methods" are right or wrong, I was able to grasp a couple of their points. And neither of those points gave me much confidence that they got things right in the parts I don't understand. Here's the first one:

Donohue and Wolfers say it's just not plausible that the death penalty deters crime because it poses such a slight risk that you'd be irrational to be deterred by it.

Similarly, Steven Levitt (of Freakonomics fame) says that "economists who argue that the death penalty works are put in the uncomfortable position of having to argue that criminals are irrationally overreacting when they are deterred by it." The suggestion is that it's implausible to think that "criminals" would be deterred by the death penalty, since the death penalty is so rarely applied that the risk, from the point of view of someone deciding whether to kill, is negligible. (Scare quotes around "criminals" because that's a really poor word choice. We're not talking about some distinct group of marauding ax murderers. We're talking about people who might decide to kill, or might end up being deterred and end up looking like pretty normal citizens, not "criminals.")

Well, wait a minute. Why is it implausible that the death penalty would deter out of proportion with the actual likelihood of being executed? Wouldn't the really implausible thing be to say that people are perfectly rational in how they respond to death-penalty statistics — and not just perfectly rational, but perfectly well-informed?

A couple examples: Most people overreact to the risk of being killed by a terrorist attack. I myself would be hugely deterred from traveling to Israel, even though I know it's irrational for this to be such a big factor in my decision. I've never been to Israel, but I do see lots of images of gruesome terrorist attacks over there. I'm not calculating the actual likelihood that it would happen to me -- it's much less rational than that. I'm instinctively focusing on the vivid images I've seen, rather than the very high likelihood that I'd have a normal, pleasant vacation. Behavioral economists refer to this as the "availability heuristic" (PDF).

By the way, here's something odd. One person who agrees with me about terrorist attacks is Steven Levitt: "Humans tend to overestimate small probabilities, so the fear generated by an act of terrorism is greatly disproportionate to the actual risk." Well, not only is Levitt the source of the above quote expressing skepticism about deterrence, but he also wrote an article in which he directly argued that the death penalty isn't a deterrent because it's too rarely and slowly applied to affect a rational person (pp. 319-20 in this PDF).

Why would Levitt think the human mind "overestimates small probabilities" when it comes to terrorist attacks, but not executions?

Another example: flying in a plane. I fly a lot, but I'm scared every time I do it because I'm imagining that the plane could go haywire, crash, and kill me. I'm much less likely to think about getting into a car crash, even though I'm statistically more likely to die in a car than on a plane. I'm not looking up statistics or doing calculations — I'm just thinking of the most vivid scenario that jumps out at me. To drive home how overpowering a deterrent the fear of a plane crash can be: Hillary Clinton's top spokesperson, Howard Wolfson, never flies, which, as the great blogger Josh Marshall points out, is "an astonishing feat given the nature of modern campaigning." (Marshall also talks about his own fear of flying and hints that it might have altered the course of his career.)

I can't believe that those who are weighing whether to commit homicide are dramatically more rational than me (or Wolfson). In fact, they're probably less rational, since murder itself is such an irrational gamble to begin with.

But just because they're irrational in these specific ways doesn't mean they're ignorant of the death penalty's very existence, which seems to be the assumption made by those who say the death penalty can't be a deterrent because it's so rarely applied. If you're in a position where you're considering whether to kill someone, you probably know whether your state has the death penalty. That doesn't mean you sit around perusing the relevant statistics; it could just mean you've seen headlines, or maybe even heard stories about people you know.

I'm largely riffing on Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule's argument about "bounded rationality":

[S]uppose that like most people, criminals are boundedly rational, assessing probabilities with the aid of heuristics. If executions are highly salient and cognitively available, some prospective murderers will overestimate their likelihood, and will be deterred as a result. Other prospective murderers will not pay much attention to the fact that execution is unlikely, focusing instead on the badness of the outcome (execution) rather than its low probability. Few murderers are likely to assess the deterrent signal by multiplying the harm of execution against its likelihood. If this is so, then the deterrent signal will be larger than might be suggested by the product of that multiplication.
I always find it surprising that the death penalty is the one punishment about which people say that it's too rarely applied to motivate people to avoid getting it applied to them. It seems to me that it's the one punishment that would vividly stand out in people's minds as something to be avoided, much more so than a relatively abstract distinction like getting 20 years vs. 30 years in prison. Of course, that distinction is anything but abstract for the person who actually has to serve the sentence, but the relevant question is how the prospect of these punishments is likely to affect someone who hasn't gone through them yet. Qualitative differences (death vs. prison) seem a lot more likely to make an impression than quantitative differences (20 years vs. 30).

Ironically, death penalty opponents themselves may be contributing to the deterrent effect by drawing attention to how horrifying the death penalty is, especially if they focus on the vivid details of executions.

One last thing: everything I've said in this post has been assuming that it really would be irrational to be deterred by the death penalty. But that's far from obvious. As Richard Posner put it: "even a 1 percent or one-half of 1 percent probability of death is hardly trivial; most people would pay a substantial amount of money to eliminate such a probability."

I said I have a couple problems with Donohue and Wolfers's attack on the deterrent studies — that's one of them. The other one is that they ignore the very data that most clearly show deterrence, which seems to throw off their whole metastudy. I'll explain why soon.

UPDATE: See the comments for an enormous amount of material criticizing the Donohue & Wolfers article. Thank you, Dudley Sharp.

8 comments:

dudleysharp said...

The Donohue and Wolfers work was what was destroyed, not the studies finding for deterrence.

The Death Penalty as a Deterrent - Twelve (now 16) Recent Studies
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, updated 82207

CONTACT information for all of the study authors is within the footnotes

"I oppose the death penalty. " " But my results show that the death penalty (deters) — what am I going to do, hide them?" "Science does really draw a conclusion. It did. There is no question about it." "The results are robust, they don't really go away" "The conclusion is there is a deterrent effect.".

Prof. Naci Mocan, Economics Chairman, University of Colorado at Denver
"Studies say death penalty deters crime", ROBERT TANNER, Associated Press, Jun 10, 2007, 2:01 PM ET

(2003) Emory University Economics Department Chairman Hashem Dezhbakhsh and Emory Professors Paul Rubin and Joanna Shepherd state that "our results suggest that capital punishment has a strong deterrent effect.  An increase in any of the probabilities -- arrest, sentencing or execution -- tends to reduce the crime rate. In particular, each execution results, on average, in eighteen fewer murders -- with a margin of error of plus or minus 10." (1) Their data base used nationwide data from 3,054 US counties from 1977-1996.

(2003) University of Colorado (Denver) Economics Department Chairman Naci Mocan and Graduate Assistant R. Kaj Gottings found "a statistically significant relationship between executions, pardons and homicide. Specifically each additional execution reduces homicides by 5 to 6, and three additional pardons (commutations) generate 1 to 1.5 additional murders." Their "data set contains detailed information on the entire 6,143 death sentences between 1977 and 1997. (2)

(2001) University of Houston Professors Dale Cloninger and Roberto Marchesini, found that death penalty moratoriums contribute to more homicides. They found: "The (Texas) execution hiatus (in 1996), therefore, appears to have spared few, if any, condemned prisoners while the citizens of Texas experienced a net 90 (to as many as 150) additional innocent lives lost to homicide. Politicians contemplating moratoriums may wish to consider the possibility that a seemingly innocuous moratorium on executions could very well come at a heavy cost." (3)

(2001) SUNY (Buffalo) Professor Liu finds that legalizing the death penalty not only adds capital punishment as a deterrent but also increases the marginal productivity of other deterrence measures in reducing murder rates. "Abolishing the death penalty not only gets rid of a valuable deterrent, it also decreases the deterrent effect of other punishments." "The deterrent effects of the certainty and severity of punishments on murder are greater in retentionist (death penalty) states than in abolition (non death penalty) states." (4)

(2003) Clemson U. Professor Shepherd  found that each execution results, on average, in five fewer murders. Longer waits on death row reduce the deterrent effect. Therefore, recent legislation to shorten the time prior to execution should increase deterrence and thus save more innocent lives. Moratoriums and other delays should put more innocents at risk. In addition, capital punishment  deters all kinds of murders, including crimes of passion and murders by intimates. Murders of both blacks and whites decrease after executions.  (5)  NOTE In a later review of individual state data, Shepherd found that for states executing less than once every 27 months, that there was no effect on murders or murders actually rose. Citations to follow.

(2003) FCC economist Dr. Paul Zimmerman finds: "Specifically, it is estimated that each state execution deters somewhere between 3 and 25 murders per year (14 being the average). Assuming that the value of human life is approximately $5 million {i.e. the average of the range estimates provided by Viscussi (1993)}, our estimates imply that society avoids losing approximately $70 million per year on average at the current rate of execution all else equal." The study used state level data from 1978 to 1997 for all 50 states (excluding Washington D.C.). (6)

(2003) Emory University Economics Department Chairman Hashem Dezhbakhsh and Clemson U. Professor Shepherd found that "The results are boldly clear: executions deter murders and murder rates increase substantially during moratoriums. The results are consistent across before-and-after comparisons and regressions regardless of the data's aggregation level, the time period, or the specific variable to measure executions." (7)
 
(2005)  In a review of Illinois state data, University of Houston Professors Dale Cloninger and Roberto Marchesini found that 150 additional Illinois' citizens died, in a four year period because of Governor Ryan suspended executions and commuted all death sentences.  (Applied Economics, forthcoming  2006).  


Criticisms rebutted and additional studies
 
(2006) "This analysis shows that attempts to make the deterrence effect disappear are  ineffective." (p 16)
---  Existence of the death penalty, in law, has a statistically significant impact on reducing murders. (p 23)
---  Execution rates show significant impact in reducing murders. (p 13 & 23)
---  Death row commutations, and other removals, increase murders. (p13 & 23)
--- The criticism of our studies is flawed and does not effect the strength of the measured deterrent effect.
"The Impact of Incentives On Human Behavior: Can we Make It Disappear? The Case of the Death Penalty",  Naci H. Mocan, R. Kaj Grittings, NBER Working Paper, 10/06, www(dot)nber.org/papers/w12631


(2006) " . . . (Donohue and Wolfers' "D&W") criticisms of Zimmerman's analysis are misrepresentative, moot or unsupportable in terms of the analyses they perform."  "It is shown that Zimmerman's published empirical results, or the conclusions drawn from them, are not in any way refuted by D&W's critique." (pg 3)  "This later estimate suggests that each execution deters 14 murders on average . . .". (pg 7) "It is shown that D&W made a number of serious misinterpretations in their review of Zimmerman's study and that none of the analyses put forward by D&W (which ostensibly refute Zimmerman's original results and conclusions) hold up under scrutiny. (pg8) " . . . D&W do not even report Zimmerman's "preferred"  results correctly, and then proceed by carrying on this error throughout the remainder of their critique."(pg8) "Of course, (D&W's) omission tends to create a strong impression that Zimmerman's analysis 'purports to find reliable relationships between executions and homicides', when his actual conclusions regarding the deterrent effect of capital punishment are far more agnostic." (pg10) " . . . D&W's method of interpreting their results is not consistent with that proscribed by the received econometric literature on randomized testing . . .".  "As such, D&W's interpretation of their randomized test in itself does not (and cannot) reasonably lead one to conclude that Zimmerman's estimates suggesting a deterrent effect of capital punishment are spurious." (pg12) " . . . D&W do not appear to have interpreted their randomization test in any meaningful fashion." (pg14) " . . . the state clustering correction employed by D&W may not be producing statistically meaningful results." (pg16) "And while D&W once lamented that recent econometric studies purporting to demonstrate a deterrent effect of capital punishment yield 'heat rather than light', as shown herein, their criticisms of Zimmerman (2004) tend to yield 'smoke rather than fire'."(pg26)
Zimmerman, Paul R., "On the Uses and 'Abuses' of Empirical Evidence in
the Death Penalty Debate" (November 2006).  ssrn(dot)com/abstract=948424


(2007) "Had (D&W's) paper been subjected to the normal blind peer review process in an authoritative economic journal it is highly unlikely that it would have survived intact , if at all. "
 
"(D&W's) Quibbling over numerous and sometimes meaningless statistical issues obscures the picture painted by the cumulative effect of the nearly dozen studies published since the turn of the 21st century." 
 
 "Using differing methodologies and data sets at least five groups of scholars each working independently (and often without knowledge of the others) have arrived at the same conclusion—there is significant and robust evidence that executions deter some homicides.  While there may be merit in some of (D&W's) specific criticisms, none addresses the totality of the collection of studies.  The probability that chance alone explains the coincidence of these virtually simultaneous conclusions is negligible."
 
"DW’s unsupported claim that the appropriate variable in studies of deterrence using these borrowed tools from portfolio analysis is the amount or level of homicides in the respective jurisdictions.  This claim is without theoretical basis or empirical precedent. "

 
"With regard to DW’s specific comments on our two papers (Cloninger & Marchesini, 2001 & 2006) we find very little requiring defense.  Implicit in their critique, and explicitly stated in private communications, DW were able to replicate our results based on data we furnished, at their request, as well as data they acquired independently. "
 
"Reflections on a Critique", Dale O Cloninger and Roberto Marchesini, forthcoming Applied Economic Letters

The findings for deterrence reflect reason, common sense and history.

"According to the standard economic model of crime, a rational offender would respond to perceived costs and benefits of committing crime."  "Capital punishment is particularly significant in this context, because it represents a very high cost for committing murder (loss of life).  Thus, the presence of capital punishment in a state, or the frequency with which it is used, should unequivocally deter homicide." Furthermore, "an increase in pardons (commutations) implies a decrease in the probability of execution, which economic theory predicts should have a positive (increase) impact on murder rates." (8)

Isaac Ehrlich (1975) provided the first systemic analysis of the relationship between capital punishment and the crime of murder along with the first empirical analysis of the deterrence hypothesis. He found that each execution deterred, on average, 8 murders. Many additional studies have found corroborating evidence supporting the deterrent effect of the death penalty --   from the United States  (Ehrlich, 1977,  Layson, 1985, Cloninger, 1992, Ehrlich and Liu, 1999, Dezhbakhsh et al, 2000) and Canada (Layson 1983) and the UK  (Wolpin, 1978). (9)

Pubic policy makers take note.  Stopping executions will sacrifice innocent lives.  Reinstating capital punishment will spare more innocent lives.

full report

THE DETERRENT EFFECT OF THE DEATH PENALTY
by Dudley Sharp
last update 42707
(contact info, below)

". . . (E)ach execution results, on average, in eighteen fewer murders . . . ".

Deterrence

The potential for negative consequences deters some behavior.  The most severe criminal sanction -- execution -- does not contradict that finding. Reason, common sense, history and the weight of the studies support the deterrent effect of the death penalty.  The death penalty protects innocent lives. The absence of the death penalty sacrifices innocent lives.

Is there any group, be they criminologists, historians, psychologists, economists, philosophers, physicians, journalists or criminals that does not recognize that the prospect of negative consequences constrains or deters the behavior of some?  Of course not -- not even fiction writers so speculate.  Even irrational people wear seat belts, choose not to smoke and do not rob police stations because of the potential for negative consequences.

I. Twelve Recent Deterrence Studies-- The death penalty saves innocent lives

Above

ll. Historical support

Reason, history and common sense all support that the potential for negative consequences deters or alters behavior. In short, incentives, negative or positive, matter. That is undisputed.

Numerous, previous studies have also supported a deterrence finding. And the studies that find a deterrent effect of other criminal sanctions give additional support to the deterrent effect of the death penalty, because, if lesser sanctions deter, then we know that more severe sanctions also deter. The studies that find a deterrent effect of 1. increased police presence, or any other levels of security; 2. arrest/arrest rates; 3. criminal sentencing/incarceration terms; and 4. the presence of rules, laws and statutes all provide additional, collateral support for the deterrent effect of the death penalty. And there are likely hundreds, if not thousands, of such studies and examples (database in progress).

lII.  Negative consequences matter

Many have discounted a deterrent effect because of the irrationality of potential and active criminals.  However, both reason and the evidence support that the potential for negative consequences does affect criminal behavior.

Criminals who try to conceal their crime do so for only one reason -- fear of punishment.  Likely, more than 99% of all criminals, including capital murderers, act in such a fashion.  Fear of capture does not exist without an expectation of punishment.

This doesn't mean that they sit down before every crime, most crimes or even their first crime, and contemplate a cost to benefit analysis of a criminal action.  Weighing negative consequences may be conscious or subconscious, thoughtful or instinctive.  And we instinctively know the potential negative consequences of some actions.  Even pathetically stupid or irrational criminals will demonstrate such obvious efforts to avoid detection.  And there is only one reason for that -- fear of punishment.

When dealing with less marginalized personalities, those who choose not to murder, such is a more reasoned group.  It would be illogical to assume that a more reasoned group would be less responsive to the potential for negative consequences.  Therefore, it would be illogical to assume that some potential murderers were not additionally deterred by the more severe punishment of execution.

As legal writer and death penalty critic Stuart Taylor observes: "All criminal penalties are based on the incontestable theory that most (or at least many) criminals are somewhat rational actors who try so hard not to get caught because they would prefer not to be imprisoned. And most are even keener about staying alive than about avoiding incarceration."  (10)

Based upon the overwhelming evidence that criminals do respond to the potential of negative consequences, reason supports that executions deter and that they are an enhanced deterrent over lesser punishments.

IV.  The pre trial, trial and death row evidence -  the survival effect

At every level of the criminal justice process, virtually all criminals do everything they can to lessen possible punishments.  I estimate that less than 1% of all convicted capital murderers request a death sentence in the punishment phase of their trial.  The apprehended criminals' desire for lesser punishments is overwhelming and unchallenged.

Of the 7300 inmates sentenced to death since 1973, 85, or 1.2% have waived remaining appeals and been executed. 98.8% have not waived appeals.  The evidence is overwhelming that murderers would rather live on death row than die.  Why?  The survival effect -- life is preferred over death and death is feared more than life.  Even on death row, that is the rule.

Even such marginalized personalities as capital murderers fear death more than imprisonment.  And that which we fear the most, deters the most. (kudos to Ernest van den Haag and many others)

It is logical to conclude that some of those less marginalized personalities, who choose not to murder, also, overwhelmingly, fear death more than life, and, we, thus, logically conclude that some are deterred from murdering because of the enhanced deterrent effect of execution.

The evidence for the survival effect in pretrial, trial and appeals is overwhelming and that weighs in favor of execution as a deterrent and as an enhanced deterrent over lesser sentences.

V.  If unsure about deterrence

Common sense, reason and history all support that the potential for negative consequences restricts the behavior of some.  But, if unsure of deterrence, we face the following dilemma -- If executions do deter, halting executions causes more innocents to be murdered and gives those living murderers the opportunity to harm and murder again.  If the death penalty does not deter, and we do execute, we punish murderers as the jury deemed appropriate and we prevent those executed murderers from harming or murdering again.

Oddly, death penalty opponents believe that the burden of proof is on those who say the death penalty is a deterrent.  Clearly it is not.  The weight of the evidence, within reason, history, common sense and the social sciences is that the potential for negative consequences restricts the behavior of some.  That is not in dispute.  Furthermore, if opponents cannot prove it is not a deterrent, which they never have and never will, then they are the ones who risk sacrificing innocents, both by absence of deterrence and reduced incapacitation.

Regardless of jurisdiction, under all debated scenarios, more innocents are put at risk when we fail to execute.  Any alleged concern for innocents weighs in favor of executions.

Vl.  The individual deterrent effect

The individual deterrent effect is represented by those who state that they were deterred from committing a murder only because of the prospects of a death sentence. Individual cases support the enhanced deterrent effect. (11)

One Iowa prisoner, who escaped from a transportation van, with a number of other prisoners, stated that he made sure that the overpowered guards were not harmed, because of his fear of the death penalty in Texas.  The prisoners were being transported through Texas, on their way to New Mexico, when the escape occurred.  Most compelling is that he was a twice convicted murderer from a non death penalty state, Iowa. In addition, he was under the false impression that Texas had the death penalty for rape and, as a result, also protected the woman guard from assault. (12)

New York Law School Professor Robert Blecker recorded his interview with a convicted murderer. The murderer robbed and killed drug dealers in Washington DC., where he was conscious that there was no death penalty.  He specifically did not murder a drug dealer in Virginia because, and only because, he envisioned himself strapped in the electric chair, which he had personally seen many times while imprisoned in Virginia. (13)

Senator Dianne Feinstein explained, ''I remember well in the 1960s when I was sentencing a woman convicted of robbery in the first degree and I remember looking at her commitment sheet and I saw that she carried a weapon that was unloaded into a grocery store robbery.  I asked her the question: ‘Why was your gun unloaded?’ She said to me: ‘So I would not panic, kill somebody, and get the death penalty.’ That was firsthand testimony directly to me that the death penalty in place in California in the sixties was in fact a deterrent.''(13A)

Logic requires that the individual deterrent effect cannot exist without the general deterrent effect.  Therefore, reason dictates that the general deterrent effect must exist. The question is not: "Does deterrence exist?"  It does. The issue is: "What is the quantifiable impact of deterrence?"

Individual cases support the individual deterrent effect and such cases insure that general deterrence must exist.  And, for both, the evidence also suggests that executions provide enhanced deterrence over incarceration.

VlI.  Conflicting studies

In reviewing 30 years of deterrence studies, the strongest statement one may make against deterrence is that there is conflicting data (14).

Yet, even when academic bias against capital punishment is overt, such as in the case of the American Society of Criminology -- the subtitle to their death penalty resources page is "Anti-Capital Punishment Resources" -- even they fail to state that the death penalty does not deter some potential murderers, only that "social science research has found no consistent evidence of crime deterrence through execution." (15) That is far from stating that executions do not deter.  And the criminologists are, very likely, that academic group most hostile toward the death penalty. What social science conflicts with the notion that the potential for negative consequences restrains the behavior of some? And most would agree that execution is the most serious negative consequence that a murderer may face.

Numerous studies find that executions do deter.  And there is a rational conclusion based upon common experience.  It appears that all criminal sanctions deter some.  It would be irrational to conclude that the most severe and publicized sanction -- execution -- does not deter some potential murderers.

Those studies which do not find deterrence say that they could not detect it, not that it doesn't exist.  Those studies which find for deterrence state such.

As Professor Cloninger states: " . . .  (Our recent) study is but another on a growing list of empirical work that finds evidence consistent with the deterrence hypothesis.  These studies as a whole provide robust evidence -- evidence obtained from a variety of different models, data sets and methodologies that yield the same conclusion. It is the cumulative effect of these studies that causes any neutral observer to pause." (16)

Conflicting studies and reason both weigh in favor of the death penalty as a deterrent and as an enhanced deterrent over lesser punishments.

VlII.  The brutalization effect of executions

Some, particularly death penalty opponents, find that the brutalization effect is more likely than the deterrent effect.  The brutalization effect finds that murders will increase because potential murderers will murder because of the example of state executions.

Why would potential and active murderers be so influenced by the state in such a deep philosophical manner, revealed by brutalization, but they wouldn't be more affected by the simple "you murder, we execute you?"

Death penalty opponents make an interesting about face on this issue.  They insist that criminals are so thoughtless and impulsive that they can't be affected by the potential of negative consequences but, then, those same opponents see criminals as so contemplative that their criminal actions increase BECAUSE those criminals follow the example of the state. One might ask those opponents: "Is there any other government action which influences criminals in such a fashion?"  Do criminals kidnap more BECAUSE the state increases incarceration rates?  Do criminals give money to potential victims BECAUSE the state donates to needy causes?

Murder rates and execution rates

Although deterrence is much more than a simple look at only execution rates and murder rates, we do find that as executions have risen dramatically, the murder rate has plunged.

From 1966-1980, a period which included our last national moratorium on executions (June 1967- January 1976), murders in the United States more than doubled from 11,040 to 23,040. The murder rate also nearly doubled, from 5.6 to 10.2/100,000.  During that 1966-1980 period, the US averaged 1 execution every 3 years, with a maximum of two executions per year.  From 1995-2000 executions averaged 71 per year, a 21,000% increase over the 1966-1980 period.  The US murder rate dropped from a high of 10.2/100,000 in 1980 to 5.5/100,000 in 2000 -- a 46% reduction. The US murder rate is now at its lowest level since 1966 (17).

The Texas example -- The murder rate in Harris County (Houston), Texas has fallen 73% since executions resumed in 1982, through 2000, from 31/100,000 to 8.5/100,000 (18).  Harris County is, by far, the most active death penalty sentencing and execution jurisdiction in the US.  The Harris County murder rate dropped nearly 70% more than did the national murder rate, during similar periods. Texas' murder rate dropped 62% during that same period, or 41% more than the national average.

Potential murderers may have been affected by the example of the state of Texas but, likely, not in a manner consistent with brutalization. 

And "(t)he biggest decline in murder rates has occurred in states that aggressively use capital punishment." (19)

After a thorough review of deterrence studies, Professor Samuel Cameron observed, "The brutalization idea is not one the economists have given any credence." "We must conclude that the deterrence effect dominates the opposing brutalization effect." (20)

Reason, history, common sense and the studies weigh against the brutalization effect.

lX.  The incapacitation effect

The incapacitation effect states that executed murderers cannot harm or murder again.  Reason dictates that living murderers are infinitely more likely to harm and murder again than are executed murderers.

That obvious logic escapes death penalty opponents who say that we can have foolproof incarceration.  What hypocrisy.  This is the same group of folks who tell us that our system of justice is so fraught with error that we cannot possibly continue the death penalty.  Yet, the facts tell us that living murderers harm and murder again, in prison, after escape and after improper release.  Executed murderers do not.  In addition, the US death penalty appears to be that criminal justice sanction which is the least likely to convict the factually innocent and the most likely to remedy such rare error upon post conviction review.

Stuart Taylor: "Statistical studies and common sense aside, it's undeniable that the death penalty saves some lives: those of the prison guards and other inmates who would otherwise be killed by murderers serving life sentences without parole, and of people who might otherwise encounter murderous escapees". (21)

Under all circumstances, the execution of murderers will protect innocents at a higher rate than will incarceration.

X.  Death Penalty Opponents

Why is it that some death penalty opponents appear to laugh off any potential for a deterrent effect of executions?  Because to admit that executions deter some potential murderers would be to admit that, in reaching their goals, they will knowingly benefit murderers at the cost of sacrificing more innocent lives.  Of course, opponents will never prove it is not a deterrent and many will admit that executions do deter some.

How many would still oppose executions if they knew that the evidence supported the deterrent effect and that many more innocents are put at risk by not executing?

Stuart Taylor: "So those of us who lean against the death penalty must confront the very real possibility that abolishing it could lead to the violent deaths of unknown numbers of innocent men, women, and children. And those who are still skeptical that the death penalty deters any killings must also confront the risk-benefit calculus suggested by political scientist John McAdams of Marquette University: 'If we execute murderers, and there is, in fact, no deterrent effect, we have killed a bunch of murderers. If we fail to execute murderers, and doing so would in fact have deterred other murders, we have allowed the killing of a bunch of innocent victims. I would much rather risk the former. This, to me, is not a tough call.'  " (22)

Xl.  Conclusion

Those of us who support execution do so because it is a just punishment.  The moral foundation for all punishments is that they are deserved.  One cannot support a punishment based upon deterrence alone.

Reason, common sense and history all fall on the side of deterrence.  Be it Sweden or Rwanda, Texas or Michigan, Singapore or Chile, England or Japan, whether high crime rates or low, the death penalty will always deter some potential murderers.  Regardless of jurisdiction, the potential for negative outcomes will always restrict the behavior of some.  And, the weight of the evidence clearly supports execution as an enhanced deterrent.

As Professor Rubin states, "Our evidence is that there are substantial benefits from executions and, thus, substantial costs of changing this policy (23).

From Prof. Robert Blecker, New York Law School,

"We support execution as a just and appropriate forfeiture of lives which deserve to be taken.  We also support execution as a just and appropriate method to save lives which deserve to be saved. "
 
opyright 1998-2008 Dudley Sharp
 
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail  sharpjfa@aol.com,  713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas

Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.
 
A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.
 
Pro death penalty sites 

homicidesurvivors(dot)com/categories/Dudley%20Sharp%20-%20Justice%20Matters.aspx

www(dot)dpinfo.com
www(dot)cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPinformation.htm
www(dot)clarkprosecutor.org/html/links/dplinks.htm
www(dot)coastda.com/archives.html
www(dot)lexingtonprosecutor.com/death_penalty_debate.htm
www(dot)prodeathpenalty.com
www(dot)yesdeathpenalty.com/deathpenalty_co
yesdeathpenalty.googlepages.com/home2 (Sweden)
www(dot)wesleylowe.com/cp.html

Permission for distribution of this document, in whole or in part,  is approved with proper attribution.


1).  "Does Capital Punishment Have a Deterrent Effect? New Evidence from Postmoratorium Panel Data", American Law and Economics Review V5 N2 2003 (344-376), Hashem Dezhbakhsh, Paul H. Rubin and Joanna M. Shepherd.
contact Dezhbakhsh at econhd@emory.edu, ph 404-727-4679, Rubin at prubin@emory.edu, ph 404-727-6365 and Shepherd at jshepherd@law.emory.edu, ph. 404-727-8957
The quotation is from the complete, pre publication study which can be found at
http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~cozden/Dezhbakhsh_01_01_paper.pdf
2)  "Getting Off Death Row: Commuted Sentences and the Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment," Journal of Law and Economics, Volume 46, Number 2, October 2003, at 
www.journals.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/resolve?JLE460202
registration required
H. Naci Mocan (mmocan@carbon.cudenver.edu, ph 303-556-8540) and R. Kaj Gottings (rgitting@carbon.cudenver.edu), 
This is a revised version of "Pardons, Executions and Homicide," NBER WP8639)  at
econ.cudenver.edu/mocan/papers/GettingOffDeathRow.pdf
The quote is from the working paper "Pardons, Executions and Homicide",  October 2001, located at
http://econ.cudenver.edu/beckman/kai.pdf
downloaded on 1/22/01
3)  "EXECUTION MORATORIUM IS NO HOLIDAY FOR HOMICIDES", Prof. Dale O. Cloninger and Prof. Roberto Marchesini. go to   http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/Moratoriums.htm
based on the study "Execution and deterrence: a quasi-controlled group
experiment", Dale O. Cloninger (cloninger@cl.uh.edu, phone 281-283-3210), Roberto Marchesini (marchesini@cl.uh.edu, phone 281-283-3215), Applied Economics, 4/01, Vol 33, N 5, p569 -- p576
4) Capital Punishment and the Deterrence Hypothesis: Some New Insights and Empirical Evidence, December 2001, Eastern Economic Journal, Forthcoming , ZHIQIANG LIU (e-mail zqliu@buffalo.edu, ph. 716-645-2121) on line at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=352681
5) Murders of Passion, Execution Delays and the Deterrence of Capital Punishment, March 2003, at http://people.clemson.edu/~jshephe/, Joanna M. Shepherd, jshepherd@law.emory.edu, ph. 404-727-8957
6). "State Executions, Deterrence and the Incidence of Murder", Paul R. Zimmerman (zimmy@att.net), March 3. 2003, Social Science Research Network, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/delivery.cfm/SSRN_ID354680_code021216500.pdf?abstractid=354680
7) Dezhbakhsh, Hashem and Shepherd, Joanna, "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: Evidence from a 'Judicial Experiment'" (Aug 19, 2003). Emory University Economics Working Paper No. 03-14 at
ssrn.com/abstract=432621
contact Dezhbakhsh at econhd@emory.edu or ph 404-727-4679 and Shepherd at jshepherd@law.emory.edu, ph. 404-727-8957
8)  "Pardons, Executions and Homicide", H. Naci Mocan (mmocan@carbon.cudenver.edu) and R. Kaj Gottings (rgitting@carbon.cudenver.edu), Journal of Law and Economics, forthcoming. Online version located at
http://econ.cudenver.edu/beckman/kai.pdf
downloaded on 1/22/01
9) Professor Ehrlich, e-mail  mgtehrl@acsu.buffalo.edu, phone (716) 645-2121. For support and defense of his work go to:  http://wings.buffalo.edu/economics/IEcrime.html
Review from Capital Punishment and the Deterrence Hypothesis: Some New Insights and Empirical Evidence, December 2001, Eastern Economic Journal, Forthcoming , ZHIQIANG LIU, e-mail zqliu@buffalo.edu, ph. 716-645-2121, on line at
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=352681
10)  "Does the Death Penalty Save Innocent Lives?", Stuart Taylor, National Journal. D.C. Dispatch, 5/31/02 at http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/nj/taylor2001-05-31.htm
11)  see paragraph 14,  Section B, "The Incapacitation and the Deterrence Effects", Death Penalty and Sentencing Information in the United States, 10/1/97, at http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/DP.html
12)  "Langley says Texas death penalty affected his actions during escape", by Stephen Martin, The Daily Democrat (Ft. Madison, Iowa), 1/8/97, pg 1.
13) Blecker book
13A) California District Attorneys Association,  ''Prosecutors Perspective on California’s Death Penalty,'' March 2003
14)  Section B, "The Incapacitation and the Deterrence Effects", Death Penalty and Sentencing Information in the United States, 10/1/97, at http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/DP.html
15)  "ASC RESOLUTION ON THE DEATH PENALTY", ASC Annual Meeting, Montreal, 1987, Anti-Capital Punishment Resources from the ASC's Critical Criminology Division, go to http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~critcrim/dp/dp.html
last viewed 12/2/01.
16)  "Execution and deterrence: a quasi-controlled group experiment", Dale O. Cloninger (cloninger@cl.uh.edu), Roberto Marchesini (marchesini@cl.uh.edu), Applied Economics, 4/01, Vol 33, N 5, p569 -- p576, located at  http://ideas.repec.org/a/taf/applec/v33y2001i5p569-76.html
17) i) Homicide trends in the U.S., Long term trends, Homicide victimization, 1950-99, Bureau of Justice Statistics,  Source: FBI, Uniform Crime Reports, 1950-2000
at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/tables/totalstab.htm
, Page last revised on January 4, 2001
      (ii) Crime in the United States --  2000, Section II --  Crime Index Offenses Reported, "Murder and non negligent homicide", FBI, Uniform Crime Reports at http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_00/00crime2_3.pdf
(iii) "Number of persons executed in the United States, 1930-2001", Key Facts at a Glance, Executions
Bureau of Justice Statistics, Source: Capital Punishment 2000, December 2001 at
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/tables/exetab.htm
18) Texas Department of Public Safety, Uniform Crime Reporting, Harris County data, from 1982 and 2000 database.
19)  Boston Globe, 10/28/97, p A12
20) "A Review of the Econometric Evidence on the Effects of Capital Punishment", The Journal of Socio-Economics, v23 n 1/2, p 197-214, 1994
21)   "Does the Death Penalty Save Innocent Lives?", Stuart Taylor, National Journal. D.C. Dispatch, 5/31/02 at http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/nj/taylor2001-05-31.htm
22)   "Does the Death Penalty Save Innocent Lives?", Stuart Taylor, National Journal. D.C. Dispatch, 5/31/02 at http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/nj/taylor2001-05-31.htm
23) "Death penalty deters scores of killings ", Paul H. Rubin, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 3/13/02, from
www.accessatlanta.com/ajc/opinion/0302/0314death.html





 

dudleysharp said...

The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below

Often, the death penalty dialogue gravitates to the subject of innocents at risk of execution. Seldom is a more common problem reviewed. That is, how innocents are more at risk without the death penalty.
 
Living murderers, in prison, after release or escape or after our failures to incarcerate them, are much more likely to harm and murder, again, than are executed murderers.
 
This is a truism.
 
No knowledgeable and honest party questions that the death penalty has the most extensive due process protections in US criminal law.

Therefore, actual innocents are more likely to be sentenced to life imprisonment and more likely to die in prison serving under that sentence, that it is that an actual innocent will be executed.
 
That is. logically, conclusive.
 
16 recent studies, inclusive of their defenses,  find for death penalty deterrence.
 
A surprise? No.

Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.
 
Some believe that all studies with contrary findings negate those 16 studies. They don't. Studies which don't find for deterrence don't say no one is deterred, but that they couldn't measure those deterred.
 
What prospect of a negative outcome doesn't deter some? There isn't one . . . although committed anti death penalty folk may say the death penalty is the only one.
 
However, the premier anti death penalty scholar accepts it as a given that the death penalty is a deterrent, but does not believe it to be a greater deterrent than a life sentence. Yet, the evidence is  compelling and un refuted  that death is feared more than life.

"This evidence greatly unsettles moral objections to the death penalty, because it suggests that a refusal to impose that penalty condemns numerous innocent people to death." (1)
 
" . . . a serious commitment to the sanctity of human life may well compel, rather than forbid, (capital) punishment." (1)

"Recent evidence suggests that capital punishment may have a significant deterrent effect, preventing as many as eighteen or more murders for each execution." (1)
 
Some death penalty opponents argue against death penalty deterrence, stating that it's a harsher penalty to be locked up without any possibility of getting out.
 
Reality paints a very different picture.
 
What percentage of capital murderers seek a plea bargain to a death sentence? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.
 
What percentage of convicted capital murderers argue for execution in the penalty phase of their capital trial? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.
 
What percentage of death row inmates waive their appeals and speed up the execution process? Nearly zero. They prefer long term imprisonment.
 
This is not, even remotely, in dispute.
 
Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.
 
Furthermore, history tells us that "lifers" have many ways to get out: Pardon, commutation, escape, clerical error, change in the law, etc.

In choosing to end the death penalty, or in choosing not implement it, some have chosen to spare murderers at the cost of sacrificing more innocent lives.
 
--------
 
Furthermore, possibly we have sentenced 20-25 actually innocent people to death since 1973, or 0.3% of those so sentenced. Those have all been released upon post conviction review. The anti death penalty claims, that the numbers are significantly higher, are a fraud, easily discoverable by fact checking.

6 inmates have been released from death row because of DNA evidence.  An additional 9 were released from prison, because of DNA exclusion, who had previously been sentenced to death.

The innocents deception of death penalty opponents has been getting exposure for many years. Even the behemoth of anti death penalty newspapers -- The New York Times -- has recognized that deception.

"To be sure, 30 or 40 categorically innocent people have been released from death row . . . ". ' (2) This when death penalty opponents were claiming the release of 119 "innocents" from death row. Death penalty opponents never required actual innocence in order for cases to be added to their "exonerated" or "innocents" list. They simply invented their own definitions for exonerated and innocent and deceptively shoe horned large numbers of inmates into those definitions - something easily discovered with fact checking.

There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since 1900.

If we accept that the best predictor of future performance is past performance, we can reasonable conclude that the DNA cases will be excluded prior to trial, and that for the next 8000 death sentences, that we will experience a 99.8% accuracy rate in actual guilt convictions. This improved accuracy rate does not include the many additional safeguards that have been added to the system, over and above DNA testing.

Of all the government programs in the world, that put innocents at risk, is there one with a safer record and with greater protections than the US death penalty?
 
Unlikely.
 
-----------------------
Full report -  All Innocence Issues: The Death Penalty, upon request.

Full report - The Death Penalty as a Deterrent, upon request
 
(1) From the Executive Summary of
Is Capital Punishment Morally Required? The Relevance of Life-Life Tradeoffs, March 2005
Prof. Cass R. Sunstein,   Cass_Sunstein(AT)law.uchicago.edu
 Prof. Adrian Vermeule ,   avermeule(AT)law.harvard.edu
Full report           http://aei-brookings.org/admin/authorpdfs/page.php?id=1131
 
(2) "The Death of Innocents': A Reasonable Doubt",
New York Times Book Review, p 29, 1/23/05, Adam Liptak,
national legal correspondent for The NY Times
-----------------------------

Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail  sharpjfa@aol.com,  713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas
 
Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.
 
A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.
 
Pro death penalty sites 

homicidesurvivors(dot)com/categories/Dudley%20Sharp%20-%20Justice%20Matters.aspx

www(dot)dpinfo.com
www(dot)cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPinformation.htm
www(dot)clarkprosecutor.org/html/links/dplinks.htm
www(dot)coastda.com/archives.html
www(dot)lexingtonprosecutor.com/death_penalty_debate.htm
www(dot)prodeathpenalty.com
www(dot)yesdeathpenalty.com/deathpenalty_co
yesdeathpenalty.googlepages.com/home2 (Sweden)
www(dot)wesleylowe.com/cp.html

Permission for distribution of this document, in whole or in part,  is approved with proper attribution.

LemmusLemmus said...

Dudley,

many of the studies that you cite are the ones that D&W criticized, so repeating their results is somewhat pointless.

I couldn't download any of the papers that answer D&W. However, the abstract to the Zimmermann paper says:

"It is shown that Donohue and Wolfers make a number of misrepresentations and errors in assessing the results and conclusions put forward in Zimmerman's analysis, and as such, their criticisms of the latter are effectively vacuous."

but continues (my emphasis):

"And although Zimmerman's ultimate conclusions regarding the deterrent effect of capital punishment are not fundamentally different from Donohue's and Wolfers', the latter authors' comprehensive review of recent death penalty studies (as well as their admonishments concerning the use of potentially fragile empirical models to inform policy decisions) marks their paper as an important contribution to the literature.

reader_iam said...

Interesting, JAC, those ruminations of yours with regard to terrorism, flying etc. and, for lack of a better shorthand, rational vs. visceral evaluations of risk, generally. My gut (heh: visceral, not rational) reaction is that it's a perhaps unconcious perception of relative helplessness/lack of control within a situation that comes into play, of being taken by surprise, of being the acted upon rather than an actor. You know, if a plane starts going down, there's not a damn thing one can do, and, boy oh boy, the fall is going to be from so much higher and the impact is going to be so much harder! Whereas, with regard to the car-crash analogy, you think (again, perhaps unconsciously), well, maybe I can jerk the wheel and escape; maybe I can minimize the impact; maybe I can jump out of the vehicle; maybe it won't be so bad--after all, most people walk away or recover; & etc.

This comment obviously is not at the level of dudleysharp's, much less at that of the various serious studies you cite. I do think it points to a human quality that can be pretty hard to quantify, pin down or even effectively account for, perhaps--and one that, again perhaps, could come into play with regard to the deterrence effect of the death penalty.

Again, this is just my quick gut-reaction "speaking," and I myself assign no more value to that than its worth in a serious discussion.

dudleysharp said...

Lemmus:

It is not pointless to list the studies that Dononhue and Wolfers criticize, if all of D&W criticisms have been rebutted, which it has, if believe.

Note, that D&W intentionally did not publish within a pear reviewed publication.

Furthermore, the authors that D&W were alegedly crtiquing were denied rebuttal within the publication that published D&W's work. All in all a good example of D&W avoiding a formal wipping, which they simpluy delayed.

to review:

I think D&W were fully rebutted by the authors of 4 studies. I only listed three, again:

(2006) "This analysis shows that attempts to make the deterrence effect disappear are ineffective." (p 16)
--- Existence of the death penalty, in law, has a statistically significant impact on reducing murders. (p 23)
--- Execution rates show significant impact in reducing murders. (p 13 & 23)
--- Death row commutations, and other removals, increase murders. (p13 & 23)
--- The criticism of our studies is flawed and does not effect the strength of the measured deterrent effect.
"The Impact of Incentives On Human Behavior: Can we Make It Disappear? The Case of the Death Penalty", Naci H. Mocan, R. Kaj Grittings, NBER Working Paper, 10/06, www(dot)nber.org/papers/w12631


(2006) " . . . (Donohue and Wolfers' "D&W") criticisms of Zimmerman's analysis are misrepresentative, moot or unsupportable in terms of the analyses they perform." "It is shown that Zimmerman's published empirical results, or the conclusions drawn from them, are not in any way refuted by D&W's critique." (pg 3) "This later estimate suggests that each execution deters 14 murders on average . . .". (pg 7) "It is shown that D&W made a number of serious misinterpretations in their review of Zimmerman's study and that none of the analyses put forward by D&W (which ostensibly refute Zimmerman's original results and conclusions) hold up under scrutiny. (pg8) " . . . D&W do not even report Zimmerman's "preferred" results correctly, and then proceed by carrying on this error throughout the remainder of their critique."(pg8) "Of course, (D&W's) omission tends to create a strong impression that Zimmerman's analysis 'purports to find reliable relationships between executions and homicides', when his actual conclusions regarding the deterrent effect of capital punishment are far more agnostic." (pg10) " . . . D&W's method of interpreting their results is not consistent with that proscribed by the received econometric literature on randomized testing . . .". "As such, D&W's interpretation of their randomized test in itself does not (and cannot) reasonably lead one to conclude that Zimmerman's estimates suggesting a deterrent effect of capital punishment are spurious." (pg12) " . . . D&W do not appear to have interpreted their randomization test in any meaningful fashion." (pg14) " . . . the state clustering correction employed by D&W may not be producing statistically meaningful results." (pg16) "And while D&W once lamented that recent econometric studies purporting to demonstrate a deterrent effect of capital punishment yield 'heat rather than light', as shown herein, their criticisms of Zimmerman (2004) tend to yield 'smoke rather than fire'."(pg26)
Zimmerman, Paul R., "On the Uses and 'Abuses' of Empirical Evidence in
the Death Penalty Debate" (November 2006). ssrn(dot)com/abstract=948424


(2007) "Had (D&W's) paper been subjected to the normal blind peer review process in an authoritative economic journal it is highly unlikely that it would have survived intact , if at all. "

"(D&W's) Quibbling over numerous and sometimes meaningless statistical issues obscures the picture painted by the cumulative effect of the nearly dozen studies published since the turn of the 21st century."

"Using differing methodologies and data sets at least five groups of scholars each working independently (and often without knowledge of the others) have arrived at the same conclusion—there is significant and robust evidence that executions deter some homicides. While there may be merit in some of (D&W's) specific criticisms, none addresses the totality of the collection of studies. The probability that chance alone explains the coincidence of these virtually simultaneous conclusions is negligible."

"DW’s unsupported claim that the appropriate variable in studies of deterrence using these borrowed tools from portfolio analysis is the amount or level of homicides in the respective jurisdictions. This claim is without theoretical basis or empirical precedent. "


"With regard to DW’s specific comments on our two papers (Cloninger & Marchesini, 2001 & 2006) we find very little requiring defense. Implicit in their critique, and explicitly stated in private communications, DW were able to replicate our results based on data we furnished, at their request, as well as data they acquired independently. "

"Reflections on a Critique", Dale O Cloninger and Roberto Marchesini, forthcoming Applied Economic Letters

LemmusLemmus said...

Dudley,

the first author - Donohue - is a legal scholar, so it is not surprising that the study was published in a legal journal. These are typically not peer-reviewed, I believe.

"Not peer reviewed" is not a substantive criticizm. Peer review is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for an article being of high quality.

I'm open to suggestions as to weaknesses of D&W's work; I have no axe to grind here. I may have overlooked something, but I could find nothing substantive in any of your three rather long posts, only assertions. By substantive I mean something along the lines of, "The regression in table 5 is flawed because... (there are collinearity problems, the statistical method is inappropriate, whatever)

dudleysharp said...

Dear Lemmus:

I appreciate your wanting more.

Authors of 4 or 5 of the deterrence studies have rebutted D&W criticisms.

I think I had links to three of those rebuttals.

I'll locate the link to another.

I intentionally included all of the contact information for all of the authors.

Call or email them with any additonal questions.

dudley

LemmusLemmus said...

Dudley,

I'll look into it to the extent that I have interest, time and access to the papers. Which means I can't say anything substantial about the replies right now.

A further link would be great. It's appreciated!