U.S. Homicide Rates and the Death Penalty

September 15, 2009

The FBI’s annual crime report – Crime in the United States, 2008 – which was released Monday reveals that, like death sentences and executions, murder rates in the U.S. declined slightly in 2008.  This has been the trend for a number of years, as has been the fact that homicide rates vary from state to state, with the states of the Deep South generally having the highest murder rates.

As usual, states without capital punishment generally had lower homicide rates than the states that execute.  In fact, all but one of the 14 states with no death penalty in 2008 had murder rates below the national rate of 5.4 per 100,000.  The lone exception, Michigan, had a homicide rate of 5.4, equal to the national rate.

Homicide rates in the U.S. are of course still way too high.  That 1 in every 20,000 Americans was murdered last year is nothing to be proud of, but by now it should be clear to all that, as the consensus of criminologists agree, the death penalty has nothing to do with solving this problem.