In the USA, discussions commenced about whether the death penalty deters potential murderers, and thus saves the lives of prospective victims. The New York Times reported the results of a study conducted over the past decade, which suggests that capital punishment could be saving lives.

The study indexed the number of death sentences carried out in various regions of the United States with the number of homicides committed in those regions, attempting to eliminate other factors influencing the incidence of these crimes. In the conclusion, it was established that the murder rate decreases as the number of executions increases. According to researchers, each execution prevents from 3 to 18 homicides. Such a relationship was established most strongly in Texas and several other states where capital punishment is carried out most frequently. This inference runs counter to the thesis, often articulated by its opponents, that the death penalty has no deterring function.

Some scientists are questioning the methodology of this study, maintaining that the collected data are insufficient to formulate the conclusion that executions prevent murders. However, the New York Times, a news agency generally known to be against the death penalty, makes many more references to opinions of scholars convinced that the conclusion of the study is accurate. Among them is Nobel Prize laureate in economics, Professor Gary Becker.

“Capital punishment could save lives. Those who oppose it, and justify it with the preservation-of-life argument, must reconcile [their position] with the eventuality that failure to implement the death penalty will lead to loss of life,” wrote Cass R. Sunstein from the University of Chicago and Adrian Vermuele from Harvard University in an article for the Stanford Law Review.