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NC murder rate falls while death penalty sleeps

The state Supreme Court issued an opinion today on a rather complex and obscure matter related to the process used in the adoption of the state’s execution “protocol.” The decision serves to highlight once again the fact that the death penalty has not been carried out in the state in more than five years.

This got me thinking: If death penalty proponents like state Rep. Paul Stam are right, this should have produced a spike in crime and killings given the supposed deterrent effect of executions.

Then I looked at the statistics. This is what I found — someone correct me if I’m looking at the wrong numbers or crunching them incorrectly:

In 2005 — the year before the de facto state moratorium on the death penalty went into effect — there were 575 murders in a state of 8.685 million people. In 2010 — the last full year for which we have statistics — there were 468 murders in a state of 9.535 million people. According to my math that’s a per capita drop of more than 25% — from a rate of roughly 0.0000662 to 0.0000491.

Rather than encouraging murder, it would appear that the absence of the death penalty has, if anything, reduced the cycle of violence in our state. That sounds like a good pattern to nurture.

6 Comments


  1. Nonanonymous

    October 7, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    If we don’t get federal spending under control and implement pro job US policies, we’re going to be talking about a lot more than a lost decade. Way to lose sight of the forest for the trees.

  2. SpatialOrientation

    October 7, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    A very good pattern indeed! We need to end the death penalty. Murder is never justice, and capital punishment is clearly no deterrent for murderers. Innocents have surely been executed in the past and will be in the future. It is just flawed public policy. Sending inmates to death row even costs more than imposing life sentences. Kill Capital Punishment!! More commentary and coverage at http://spatialorientation.com/tag/death-penalty/

  3. Rob Schofield

    October 7, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Hey “Non” — Wake up! You got you comments and posts mixed up.

  4. Jeff S

    October 9, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Two data points is not a pattern.

  5. Rob Schofield

    October 10, 2011 at 8:06 am

    There are actually more of them — the decline has been consistent over the last few years. I agree that it’s not dispositive on the issue of “deterrence,” but it’s certainly a notable development.

  6. […] methods as cruel and unusual, which brought about the de facto moratorium. Anti-death penalty critics point out that state statistics show a per capita decrease of 25% in the murder rate from 2005 to […]

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