Fact check: No proof the death penalty prevents crime

Source: ABC News, Australia

Death Penalty

Does the death penalty prevent crime?

Following the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in Bali, debate about the role of the death penalty in society has led to calls for Australia to push for an end to the punishment around the world.

While advocating for a reprieve for the two drug smugglers during a visit to Bali in February, Victorian Supreme Court judge Lex Lasry told ABC TV’s 7.30 that the death penalty does not deter crime.

  • The claim: Victorian Supreme Court judge Lex Lasry says the death penalty does not deter crime, “it’s just a terrible thing to do”.
  • The verdict: There is scant research on whether the death penalty deters drug trafficking. Experts who have considered the issue of the death penalty as a punishment for murder, and in some cases drug offences, around the world, say there is not enough evidence to conclude that the death penalty deters.

“There are all sorts of other punishments – life imprisonment and so on – but the idea that a government would take individuals out into the bush, as they would here, and shoot them is just something that I can never live with and never understand, and apart from anything else, from a legal point of view, no-one really claims now that it has any real deterrent value. It’s just a terrible thing to do,” he said.

ABC Fact Check looks at the research. Read more