Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

What is the purpose of capital punishment? Does it deter crime?

Why do some people support the death penalty? Because research conducted by multiple teams of scholars at multiple universities have shown that the death penalty deters crime.

Excerpt:

“Science does really draw a conclusion. It did. There is no question about it,” said Naci Mocan, an economics professor at the University of Colorado at Denver. “The conclusion is there is a deterrent effect.”

A 2003 study he co-authored, and a 2006 study that re-examined the data, found that each execution results in five fewer homicides, and commuting a death sentence means five more homicides. “The results are robust, they don’t really go away,” he said. “I oppose the death penalty. But my results show that the death penalty (deters) — what am I going to do, hide them?”

Statistical studies like his are among a dozen papers since 2001 that capital punishment has deterrent effects. They all explore the same basic theory — if the cost of something (be it the purchase of an apple or the act of killing someone) becomes too high, people will change their behavior (forego apples or shy from murder).

And specifically:

• Each execution deters an average of 18 murders, according to a 2003 nationwide study by professors at Emory University. (Other studies have estimated the deterred murders per execution at three, five and 14).

• The Illinois moratorium on executions in 2000 led to 150 additional homicides over four years following, according to a 2006 study by professors at the University of Houston.

• Speeding up executions would strengthen the deterrent effect. For every 2.75 years cut from time spent on death row, one murder would be prevented, according to a 2004 study by an Emory University professor.

In case anyone is wondering what sort of crimes are deterred by the death penalty, you can read this graphic description of a recent death-penalty crime.

What sort of crimes are eligible for the death penalty?

Here’s an example of a death-penalty eligible crime from the Hartford Courant. (WARNING: graphic!)

Excerpt:

A Superior Court jury today sentenced Steven Hayes to death for the murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Hayley and Michaela, during a seven-hour home invasion, robbery and arson at their Cheshire home in July 2007.

Outside the courthouse after the verdicts, Hawke-Petit’s father, the Rev. Richard Hawke, said “There are some people who do not deserve to live in God’s world.”

Asked what he had in his heart, Dr. William Petit Jr. struggled with his answer. “….Probably many of you have kids,” he said, pausing to choke back tears. “Michaela was an 11-year-old little girl…tortured and killed in her own bedroom, surrounded by her stuffed animals….”

Petit then talked about his daughter Hayley’s bright future and her strength and the children that his wife, Jennifer, helped.

“So, I was really thinking of the tremendous loss” during the verdict, Petit said, adding that he was pleased with it, but “mostly I was sad for the loss we have all suffered.”

Asked if he thought there’d be closure now, Petit said, “There’s never closure. There’s a hole…. with jagged edges…that may smooth out with time, but the hole in your heart and the hole in your soul” remains.

“This isn’t about revenge,” Petit said. “Vengeance belongs to the Lord. This is about justice.”

[...]The jury sentenced Hayes to death on six counts: killing Hawke-Petit and Michaela and Hayley in the course of a single action; killing a child under the age of 16; killing Hawke-Petit in the course of a kidnapping; killing Hayley in the course of a kidnapping; killing Michaela in the course of a kidnapping; and killing Hawke-Petit in the course of a sexual assault.

[...]Hayes, 47, of Winsted, was convicted Oct. 5 of breaking into the Petit home, beating Petit, tying up and torturing the family as Hayes and another man ransacked the home for cash and valuables and tortured the family for seven hours. Testimony during Hayes’ trial showed that at one point in the break-in, Hayes forced Hawke-Petit to go to the bank to withdraw money. During that time, according to testimony, Komisarjevsky sexually assaulted Michaela Petit, 11.

When Hawke-Petit and Hayes returned from the bank, Hayes raped and strangled Hawke-Petit. The house was doused with gasoline and set on fire as the intruders fled, testimony showed. Hayley, 17, and Michaela died of smoke inhalation.

[...]Prosecutors used the words of Hayes’ younger brother Matthew to counter testimony that home-invasion crime was an aberration in Hayes otherwise troubled but basically nonviolent life.

Matthew Hayes portrayed his brother as a conniving, sadistic, violent thief who saw Matthew take countless beatings from his brutal father for Steven Hayes’ misdeeds. At one point, Steven Hayes held a gun to Matthew’s head, according to the statement, which was given to state police after the home invasion.

Examples of Hayes’ sadistic behavior toward his brother included hooking Matthew to the garage door by his belt and raising the door up and down, and holding Matthew’s hand to a red-hot burner. Matthew said his brother’s life of crime was not a result of bad parenting or poor childhood. He said Hayes never learned to take responsibility for his actions.

Sometimes, I think that we have stopped judging others because we do not want to be judged ourselves. We hope that by not judging anyone, that we will somehow escape being judged by anyone – especially by God himself. The opposition to punishing the guilty is, I think, really just a way of expressing our desire to do away with the idea that we will finally face judgment.We seem to be able to ignore the victim’s needs and act as if the criminal is the victim. We act as if deterring a crime with punishment has no impact on the decision making of people who are considering whether to commit the crime. But crime isn’t some random action – criminals do consider what will happen to them if they are caught. We send potential killers a message by being willing to punish the ones we catch. But if we treat them like victims, then others watching are not going to be deterred from committing crimes.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What is the purpose of capital punishment? Does it deter crime?

Why do some people support the death penalty? Because research conducted by multiple teams of scholars at multiple universities have shown that the death penalty deters crime.

Excerpt:

“Science does really draw a conclusion. It did. There is no question about it,” said Naci Mocan, an economics professor at the University of Colorado at Denver. “The conclusion is there is a deterrent effect.”

A 2003 study he co-authored, and a 2006 study that re-examined the data, found that each execution results in five fewer homicides, and commuting a death sentence means five more homicides. “The results are robust, they don’t really go away,” he said. “I oppose the death penalty. But my results show that the death penalty (deters) — what am I going to do, hide them?”

Statistical studies like his are among a dozen papers since 2001 that capital punishment has deterrent effects. They all explore the same basic theory — if the cost of something (be it the purchase of an apple or the act of killing someone) becomes too high, people will change their behavior (forego apples or shy from murder).

And specifically:

• Each execution deters an average of 18 murders, according to a 2003 nationwide study by professors at Emory University. (Other studies have estimated the deterred murders per execution at three, five and 14).

• The Illinois moratorium on executions in 2000 led to 150 additional homicides over four years following, according to a 2006 study by professors at the University of Houston.

• Speeding up executions would strengthen the deterrent effect. For every 2.75 years cut from time spent on death row, one murder would be prevented, according to a 2004 study by an Emory University professor.

In case anyone is wondering what sort of crimes are deterred by the death penalty, you can read this graphic description of a recent death-penalty crime.

What sort of crimes are eligible for the death penalty?

Here’s an example of a death-penalty eligible crime from the Hartford Courant. (WARNING: graphic!)

Excerpt:

A Superior Court jury today sentenced Steven Hayes to death for the murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Hayley and Michaela, during a seven-hour home invasion, robbery and arson at their Cheshire home in July 2007.

Outside the courthouse after the verdicts, Hawke-Petit’s father, the Rev. Richard Hawke, said “There are some people who do not deserve to live in God’s world.”

Asked what he had in his heart, Dr. William Petit Jr. struggled with his answer. “….Probably many of you have kids,” he said, pausing to choke back tears. “Michaela was an 11-year-old little girl…tortured and killed in her own bedroom, surrounded by her stuffed animals….”

Petit then talked about his daughter Hayley’s bright future and her strength and the children that his wife, Jennifer, helped.

“So, I was really thinking of the tremendous loss” during the verdict, Petit said, adding that he was pleased with it, but “mostly I was sad for the loss we have all suffered.”

Asked if he thought there’d be closure now, Petit said, “There’s never closure. There’s a hole…. with jagged edges…that may smooth out with time, but the hole in your heart and the hole in your soul” remains.

“This isn’t about revenge,” Petit said. “Vengeance belongs to the Lord. This is about justice.”

[...]The jury sentenced Hayes to death on six counts: killing Hawke-Petit and Michaela and Hayley in the course of a single action; killing a child under the age of 16; killing Hawke-Petit in the course of a kidnapping; killing Hayley in the course of a kidnapping; killing Michaela in the course of a kidnapping; and killing Hawke-Petit in the course of a sexual assault.

[...]Hayes, 47, of Winsted, was convicted Oct. 5 of breaking into the Petit home, beating Petit, tying up and torturing the family as Hayes and another man ransacked the home for cash and valuables and tortured the family for seven hours. Testimony during Hayes’ trial showed that at one point in the break-in, Hayes forced Hawke-Petit to go to the bank to withdraw money. During that time, according to testimony, Komisarjevsky sexually assaulted Michaela Petit, 11.

When Hawke-Petit and Hayes returned from the bank, Hayes raped and strangled Hawke-Petit. The house was doused with gasoline and set on fire as the intruders fled, testimony showed. Hayley, 17, and Michaela died of smoke inhalation.

[...]Prosecutors used the words of Hayes’ younger brother Matthew to counter testimony that home-invasion crime was an aberration in Hayes otherwise troubled but basically nonviolent life.

Matthew Hayes portrayed his brother as a conniving, sadistic, violent thief who saw Matthew take countless beatings from his brutal father for Steven Hayes’ misdeeds. At one point, Steven Hayes held a gun to Matthew’s head, according to the statement, which was given to state police after the home invasion.

Examples of Hayes’ sadistic behavior toward his brother included hooking Matthew to the garage door by his belt and raising the door up and down, and holding Matthew’s hand to a red-hot burner. Matthew said his brother’s life of crime was not a result of bad parenting or poor childhood. He said Hayes never learned to take responsibility for his actions.

Sometimes, I think that we have stopped judging others because we do not want to be judged ourselves. We hope that by not judging anyone, that we will somehow escape being judged by anyone – especially by God himself. The opposition to punishing the guilty is, I think, really just a way of expressing our desire to do away with the idea that we will finally face judgment.We seem to be able to ignore the victim’s needs and act as if the criminal is the victim. We act as if deterring a crime with punishment has no impact on the decision making of people who are considering whether to commit the crime. But crime isn’t some random action – criminals do consider what will happen to them if they are caught. We send potential killers a message by being willing to punish the ones we catch. But if we treat them like victims, then others watching are not going to be deterred from committing crimes.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New CDC study on gun violence that Obama requested undermines gun control

Here’s an article about the CDC study from the leftist Slate magazine. (H/T ECM)

First – Obama ordered this study, and it was performed by an agency under his control – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The article says:

Earlier this year, President Obama ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assess the existing research on gun violence and recommend future studies. That report, prepared by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, is now complete. Its findings won’t entirely please the Obama administration or the NRA, but all of us should consider them.

The article explains 10 findings of the report.

Here are a few of them:

2. Most indices of crime and gun violence are getting better, not worse. “Overall crime rates have declined in the past decade, and violent crimes, including homicides specifically, have declined in the past 5 years,” the report notes. “Between 2005 and 2010, the percentage of firearm-related violent victimizations remained generally stable.” Meanwhile, “firearm-related death rates for youth ages 15 to 19 declined from 1994 to 2009.” Accidents are down, too: “Unintentional firearm-related deaths have steadily declined during the past century. The number of unintentional deaths due to firearm-related incidents accounted for less than 1 percent of all unintentional fatalities in 2010.”

5. Mass shootings aren’t the problem. “The number of public mass shootings of the type that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School accounted for a very small fraction of all firearm-related deaths,” says the report. “Since 1983 there have been 78 events in which 4 or more individuals were killed by a single perpetrator in 1 day in the United States, resulting in 547 victims and 476 injured persons.” Compare that with the 335,000 gun deaths between 2000 and 2010 alone.

7. Guns are used for self-defense often and effectively. “Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year … in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008,” says the report. The three million figure is probably high, “based on an extrapolation from a small number of responses taken from more than 19 national surveys.” But a much lower estimate of 108,000 also seems fishy, “because respondents were not asked specifically about defensive gun use.” Furthermore, “Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was ‘used’ by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.”

10. It isn’t true that most gun acquisitions by criminals can be blamed on a few bad dealers. The report concedes that in 1998, “1,020 of 83,272 federally licensed retailers (1.2 percent) accounted for 57.4 percent of all guns traced by the ATF.” However, “Gun sales are also relatively concentrated; approximately 15 percent of retailers request 80 percent of background checks on gun buyers conducted by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.” Researchers have found that “the share of crime gun traces attributed to these few dealers only slightly exceeded their share of handgun sales, which are almost equally concentrated among a few dealers.” Volume, not laxity, drives the number of ill-fated sales.

The findings of the CDC study are not aligned with either side of the gun control debate, but considering the source (an agency of the Obama administration), I expect them to be even more liberal than the real state of affairs.

A better place to look for the truth about guns is in the academic literature. Here are two books I really like for that.

Both of those books make the case that permitting law-abiding citizens to own firearms for self-defense reduces rates of gun violence.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Violent crime rate more than doubled in the four years after the 1997 UK gun ban

Whenever I get into discussions about gun control, I always mention two academic books by John R. Lott and Joyce Lee Malcolm.

Here is a paper by Dr. Malcolm that summarizes one of the key points of her book.

Excerpt:

Tracing the history of gun control in the United Kingdom since the late 19th century, this article details how the government has arrogated to itself a monopoly on the right to use force. The consequence has been a tremendous increase in violent crime, and harsh punishment for crime victims who dare to fight back. The article is based on the author’s most recent book, Guns and Violence: The English Experience (Harvard University Press, 2002). Joyce Malcom is professor of history at Bentley College, in Waltham, Massachusetts. She is also author of To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an AngloAmerican Right (Harvard University Press, 1994).

Upon the passage of The Firearms Act (No. 2) in 1997, British Deputy Home Secretary Alun Michael boasted: “Britain now has some of the toughest gun laws in the world.” The Act was second handgun control measure passed that year, imposed a near-complete ban on private ownership of handguns, capping nearly eighty years of increasing firearms restrictions. Driven by an intense public campaign in the wake of the shooting of schoolchildren in Dunblane, Scotland, Parliament had been so zealous to outlaw all privately owned handguns that it rejected proposals to exempt Britain’s Olympic target-shooting team and handicapped target-shooters from the ban.

And the result of the 1997 gun ban:

The result of the ban has been costly. Thousands of weapons were confiscated at great financial cost to the public. Hundreds of thousands of police hours were devoted to the task. But in the six years since the 1997 handgun ban, crimes with the very weapons banned have more than doubled, and firearm crime has increased markedly. In 2002, for the fourth consecutive year, gun crime in England and Wales rose—by 35 percent for all firearms, and by a whopping 46 percent for the banned handguns. Nearly 10,000 firearms offences were committed.

[...]According to Scotland Yard, in the four years from 1991 to 1995 crimes against the person in England‟s inner cities increased by 91 percent. In the four years from 1997 to 2001 the rate of violent crime more than doubled. The UK murder rate for 2002 was the highest for a century.

I think that peer-reviewed studies – from Harvard University, no less – should be useful to those of us who believe in the right of self-defense for law-abiding people.

I found this interesting article from August 2011 by Dr. Malcolm in the Wall Street Journal, where she catches us up on what it is like to live in the UK under draconian gun control laws.

Excerpt:

As wild gangs of youths burned homes, shops and cars and severely beat anyone who tried to stop them last week, English people tried to defend themselves. Their desperation triggered a 5,000% increase in purchases of baseball bats from Amazon.

This is a sad symbol of the failure of the British approach to crime—with its sympathy for offenders, intolerance of self-defense, and unwillingness to pay for adequate crime control. A people once proud of their peaceful country and unarmed policemen had to resort to clubs to protect life and limb.

Great Britain’s leniency began in the 1950s, with a policy that only under extraordinary circumstances would anyone under 17 be sent to prison. This was meant to rehabilitate young offenders. But the alternative to incarceration has been simply to warn them to behave, maybe require community service, and return them to the streets. There has been justifiable concern about causes of crime such as poverty and unemployment, but little admission that some individuals prefer theft to work and that deterrence must be taken seriously.

Victims of aggression who defend themselves or attempt to protect their property have been shown no such leniency. Burglars who injured themselves breaking into houses have successfully sued homeowners for damages. In February, police in Surrey told gardeners not to put wire mesh on the windows of their garden sheds as burglars might hurt themselves when they break in.

If a homeowner protecting himself and his family injures an intruder beyond what the law considers “reasonable,” he will be prosecuted for assault. Tony Martin, an English farmer, was sentenced to life in prison for killing one burglar and wounding another with a shotgun during the seventh break-in at his rural home in 1999. While his sentence was later reduced to five years, he was refused parole in 2003 because he was judged a danger to burglars.

In 2008, a robber armed with a knife attacked shopkeeper Tony Singh in West Lancashire. During the struggle the intruder was fatally stabbed with his own knife. Although the robber had a long record of violent assault, prosecutors were preparing to charge Mr. Singh with murder until public outrage stopped them.

The UK experience with gun control really shows where the anti-gun people would take us. This is their view – this is what the gun control supporters want. People who refuse to permit and promote responsible gun ownership by law-abiding citizens side with the criminals. They want criminals to be free to threaten, assault and murder law-abiding citizens. That’s the truth of it. I would also say that if a man does not believe in using any and all means necessary to protect his family, and others, by opposing aggression by criminals in his own home, then he is not a man to marry. Ladies, avoid him.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 people shot on Friday in Chicago, the city with the strictest gun control laws

From the Chicago Tribune: (H/T Doug Ross)

Shootings across the city Friday afternoon and night wounded at least ten people, according to Chicago police, including four teens in three separate South and West side attacks.

The rest of the article has details on who was shot and where.

In August 2012, 13 people were shot in 30 minutes in Chicago.

Now, you might think that Chicago has some of the most permissive gun control laws in the country – especially if you were a leftist. But that’s not the case. Chicago is run by an anti-gun radical named Rahm Emmanuel, and they basically have a de facto ban on guns in the entire city. So how is banning guns working for them?

Take a look at this CNS News article:

There were 192 shootings in Chicago throughout the month of November – a 49 percent increase from a year earlier – according to police records obtained by the Chicago Tribune.

In November of 2011, Chicago recorded 129 shootings compared to the 192 shootings this November.  Police records also reveal that shootings increased more than 11 percent in the first 11 months of 2012 compared with a year earlier.

Total homicides in Chicago rose to 480 for the first eleven months of 2012; a 21 percent increase from last year.  On November 30, 2012, there were four fatal shootings within the city.  These murders brought the homicide total to 38 for the month, just above the 37 recorded in November of last year.

Back in 2011, a ban on guns was overturned and crime rates were dropping. But then along came Rahm Emmanuel in 2012, pushing for gun registries and more gun control.

The policies of the left are not working. And that’s because they are not looking at the root cause of crime.

Doug Ross explains:

How much of the violence in Chicago that occurs each night is authored by kids without fathers?

That’s the question we should be asking. Only that question won’t be asked and it won’t be answered, because it indicts the Democrat Party’s failed policies on a monumental scale.

How many dead, crippled and imprisoned inner-city youths has “Great Society” left in its wake? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Millions?

How many have died thanks to “the War on Drugs”, “the War on Guns”, and “the War on Poverty”? And how many more must die before we reverse course on the Democrats’ failed welfare state policies and their catastrophic impact on the two-parent family?

And he’s not just making that up. Take a look at the evidence from National Review:

A Detroit study found that about 70 percent of juvenile homicide perpetrators did not live with both parents. Another study found that of girls committed to the California Youth Authority (for serious delinquents), 93 percent came from non-intact homes. Nationally, seventy percent of youths incarcerated in state reform institutions come from single-parent or no-parent homes. A survey of juvenile delinquents in state custody in Wisconsin found that fewer than 1/6 came from intact families; over two-fifths were illegitimate.

[...]Young black males from single-parent families are twice as likely to engage in crime as young black males from two-parent families. If the single-parent family is in a neighborhood with a large number of other single-parent families, the odds of the young man becoming involved in crime are tripled. These findings are based on a study conducted for the Department of Health and Human Services by M. Anne Hill and June O’Neill of Baruch College. The study held constant all socioeconomic variables (such as income, parental education, or urban setting) other than single parenthood.

Crime has often been thought to be a problem of race or poverty, since poor people and racial minorities comprise a larger portion of the violent criminal population than of the population as a whole. But in fact, the causal link between fatherlessness and crime “is so strong that controlling for family configuration erases the relationship between race and crime and between low income and crime,” as Barbara Dafoe Whitehead noted in her famous “Dan Quayle was Right” article.

The real cause of gun violence is the antagonism towards marriage by people on the left. They don’t like the traditional family because it has different roles: men work and women raise young children. That clashes with their feminist ideology which says that women should be identical to men. They are the ones that push sex onto young people with early sex education, free contraceptives and free abortions. Premarital sex is good, according to Democrats, because it undermines the traditional (sexist) courting that leads to traditional (sexist) marriage.

For a leftist, it is a wonderful thing when they can reward a woman who has premarital sex with welfare, because single women and especially single mothers vote overwhelmingly for bigger government and higher taxes. Encouraging risky sexual behavior is how Democrats stay in power. When families break down, it creates all sorts of opportunities to grow government and make more people dependent on government.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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