Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 1994

Publication Title

Journal of Social Issues


This paper reviews and assesses the empirical literature on murder, capital punishment, and deterrence. There is a large body of evidence regarding these issues, with studies yielding a rather consistent pattern of nondeterrence. However, most investigations are limited because they rely upon the general homicide rate as the criterion variable, although both legally and theoretically, different types of murder may be differentially subject to deterrence. As an example of how deterrence investigations may benefit from examining different types of homicide, we conduct a monthly time-series analysis of the possible deterrent effect of the provision for capital punishment, levels of execution, and the amount and type of television news coverage executions receive on overall and different types of police killings for 1976-1989. The analysis reveals no evidence that police are afforded an added measure of protection against death by capital punishment.

Original Citation

Bailey, W. C., & Peterson, R. D. (1994). Murder, capital punishment, and deterrence: A review of the evidence and an examination of police killings. Journal Of Social Issues, 50(2), 53-74.