Is the Death Penalty a Deterrence?

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Among other methods of punishing violent crimes, the death penalty is the most discussed one. This form of justice implies execution for committing a homicide. Although it is challenging for many people to accept the necessity of capital punishment, this approach is considered useful in some countries. I believe that many cities’ streets have become more secure locations as the fear of execution prevented thousands of cases of murder. This essay will examine reasons which support the idea that the death penalty is deterrence of homicides.

Concept of the Deterrence Theory

Capital punishment has a background that explains the necessity of its implementation. Cesare Beccaria, the first criminologist, states that people may commit offenses that will harm others because of self-interest (Mendoza Valles, 2018). Moreover, he theorized that criminal activity in the offender would be deterred if the pain of punishment outweighed the pleasure of crime (Mendoza Valles, 2018). In addition, for punishment to be successful, there must be extreme and repeated use of it (Mendoza Valles, 2018). The deterrence theory concept that outlines the death penalty’s particular role in preventing homicides derives from the mentioned statements. According to Mendoza Valles (2018), “When the benefits of committing a crime outweigh the costs, anyone can engage in criminality” (p. 5). As self-interest and pleasure are benefits, society needs a form of punishment that makes violent crime less attractive. The execution serves as a pain provider that reduces people’s desire to commit a homicide. The deterrence theory shows the specific effect this form of justice has on potential offenders and proves its implementation.

Deterrence through Capital Punishment

It is necessary to evaluate the overall effect of capital punishment on the homicide rate to prove the death penalty’s application. According to Mendoza Valles (2018), between the years 1930 and 1965, executing one or more offenders in one year resulted in a decrease in violent crimes 54 percent of the time in the following period. The evidence proves that this form of justice saved thousands of citizens by punishing several criminals.

There are two main points, which complement the general fear of the death penalty. According to Mendoza Valles (2018), “the deterrent effects arise from executions themselves and not simply having a death penalty law in place” (p. 10). That means that the danger of capital punishment will have slight outcomes if it is not supported with notable instances of its implementation. In addition, executions appear to deter murder only through their announcement (Mendoza Valles, 2018). It means that a potential offender will be less likely to commit homicide if he witnesses a punishment in proximity to the time of the planned crime. The death penalty is not a reliable deterrence if the consequences of infringement of the law are not demonstrable. However, it is possible to significantly lower violent crime rates through the correct application of this punishment.


To conclude, the death penalty is a promising method of preventing homicides. Potential offenders see benefits from violent crimes such as self-interest and pleasure. The threat of pain from capital punishment outweighs the advantage of committing murder and reduces criminal activity in people. The focus on demonstrating homicides consequences is required as it makes the death penalty effective. I am confident that the danger of execution is sufficient to deter homicides, as it makes the attractiveness of a crimeless valuable.


Mendoza Valles, L. A. (2018). Does the death penalty deter homicides? [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. The University of Texas at Arlington.

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DemoEssays. 2022. "Is the Death Penalty a Deterrence?" December 24, 2022.

1. DemoEssays. "Is the Death Penalty a Deterrence?" December 24, 2022.


DemoEssays. "Is the Death Penalty a Deterrence?" December 24, 2022.