The death penalty is not a deterrent to crime. In 2006, the South again had the highest murder rate in the country with 6.8 murders per 100,000 people. Yet 80% of the executions in the country since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976 have occurred in the South. The Northeast, the region with the lowest murder rate, once again had the lowest execution rate at less than 1%.[1]

Murder rates

This graph from the Death Penalty Information Center, shows that murder rates continue to decline in states that do not use the death penalty.

67% of police chiefs do not believe the death penalty significantly reduces the number of homicides, according to a 1995 Hart Research Associates Poll. Rather, police chiefs ranked the death penalty as the last among effective ways of reducing violent crime.

80% of experts believe that existing research fails to support a deterrence justification for the death penalty, according to a survey of experts from the American Society of Criminology, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, and the Law and Society Association.[2]

[1] Preliminary FBI Uniform Crime Report 2006. Death Penalty Information Center.

[2] M. Radelet and R. Akers, Deterrence and the Death Penalty: The Views of the Experts, 1995.