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Joseph Stiglitz, Aaron Edlin, and J. Bradford DeLong

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231143653

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231143653.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

On the Economics of Capital Punishment

On the Economics of Capital Punishment

(p.241) Chapter 28 On the Economics of Capital Punishment
The Economists' Voice

Gary S. Becker

Columbia University Press

This chapter comments on the discussion by Richard A. Posner in Chapter 27 and also offers argument in favor of the death penalty. The author supports the use of capital punishment for persons convicted of murder because, and only because, he believes it deters murders. Otherwise, he would be opposed, because revenge and the other possible motives that are mentioned and discussed by Posner should not be a basis for public policy. Posner indicated that the deterrent effect of capital punishment would be greater if the delays on its implementation were much shortened and if this punishment were more certain to be used in the appropriate cases. But he agrees with Posner that capital punishment has an important deterrent effect even with the way the present system actually operates.

Keywords:   capital punishment, death penalty, deterrence, public policy

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