Hot Potato: Food for Thought
This Won't Hurt a Bit
It Does Not Deter
1997 August 22

One common reason cited for exercising the death penalty is that it deters other potential murderers. In fact, there is almost no evidence to support this claim. America is the only country in the developed world that still executes people, and the murder rate in America is far higher than in any other of these nations. If the death penalty is any deterrent at all, it does not seem to work very well. If you were to judge solely on the basis of the numbers, the death penalty incites people to kill. One certain means of getting your 15 minutes of fame is to be executed.

The horror of a lifetime in an overcrowded and dangerous American prison must surely be a sufficient deterrent for any sane person, and no deterrent whatever is going to stop a lunatic.

It is time for America to stop this barbaric process. The rest of the civilized world finds the entire business repugnant. What has gone wrong with a country that institutionalizes such a blood-thirsty exercise of power?

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