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.

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