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Abolishing the Death Penalty Leads to Decline in Murders

by Douglas Ankney

In a blow to those who cling to the idea that the death penalty deters murder, a study by the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center (“ABC”) demonstrates that when nations abolish the death penalty the rate of homicides decreases. 

To be included in the study, a nation had to meet the following criteria: (1) the death penalty had to be formally abolished at least 10 years ago, (2) at least one death sentence had to have been imposed or carried out in the decade prior to abolition, and (3) homicide rate data had to be available from the World Trade Organization. The ABC found these 11 countries met the criteria: Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Poland, Serbia, South Africa, and Ukraine.

Beginning with the baseline homicide rate in the year of abolition, the researchers then compared that to the homicide rate of the next 10 years. One decade after abolition, the homicide rate in these nations fell by an average of six murders per 100,000 of population. Six nations experienced homicides at a rate below the baseline for all 10 years following abolition. Four of the countries had one or two years in which the number of homicides exceeded the number in the year of abolition but then dropped below the baseline within five years. Georgia was the only country to have a higher homicide rate for the decade following abolition.

This data parallels data from states in the United States. It has been repeatedly shown that states without the death penalty have lower homicide rates than those that do. It appears that when governments stop killing, so do their citizens. 



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