Legislators anxious to reinstate the death penalty in their states hope their trump card will be police and public safety issues. But the facts stand in their way.
The Death Penalty Information Center reports that Virginia lawmakers tried and failed to reinstate the death penalty for killing police officers last month. Several legislators in Illinois also recently introduced bills to reinstate it, arguing that “law enforcement is under attack.”
However, according to DPIC, the problem is that what these legislators are arguing is simply not true.
DPIC’s homicide study looked at states that had abolished capital punishment (a) throughout the study period, (b) recently abolished it, and (c) abolished it long ago.
In a nutshell: “The data showed that police officers were killed in the line of duty at a rate that was 1.37 times higher in states that had the death penalty than in states that had long abolished the death penalty. The states in which police were killed at the highest rates were disproportionately death penalty states,” DPIC reports.
The study also found that the death penalty “had no observable impact on officer safety,” with eight of nine states without capital punishment the safest for law enforcement.