Because Blogger's "Adult warning" often goes into a perpetual loop (isn't working properly), I will be making all new posts at my WordPress blog. You can follow it even if you do not have a WordPress Account. There're also my Twitter and my Tumblr blog, my Facebook and my Google+ page and my group.
(Update: Blogger hasn't fixed its problem with the "adult warning". Will go back to posting at my WordPress blog)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Death Penalty

There's a lot of noise and dust about the death penalty. My objection to it is that it's too easy to make a mistake, that poor ppl are more likely to be convicted than the wealthy. I doubt the deterrent effect. My economics training suggests that you have to multiply the probability of capture with the severity of deterrence to get the relevant factor. If, for example, you are very unlikely to be caught drink-driving, you'll probably take the chance, even if the penalty is severe. But if the likelihood is high, as it is in Victoria, where booze buses are everywhere, then it's much more rational not to drink and drive. And the stats bear this out. The penalties haven't changed much over 40 years, but the prevalence of random breath-testing is very high now compared to non-existent then. And the accident rate has collapsed -- admittedly, influenced by other factors, such as better enforcement of speed limits by a similar technique to the control of drink driving: random fixed and moving speed cameras.

If you set aside the wish to punish the murderer, the real issue is how to cut the murder rate. Australia with 21 million ppl has just over 300 murders a year. America and South Africa have nearer 20,000. Even allowing for larger populations, those are much higher numbers. And we don't have the death penalty. We also don't allow private gun ownership, except in special cases.

Anyway, what prompted this post was this article : http://edition.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/04/29/dna.exoneration.ap/index.html

Note how many have been falsely convicted in Dallas County.

Makes you think, ne?

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