Date of Award

Winter 2010

Project Type


Program or Major

Justice Studies

Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Susan Siggelakis


Deterrence has historically been a justification for capital punishment. Recent studies have found deterrent effects as strong as eighteen murders prevented per execution (Dezhbakhsh, Rubin and Shepherd, 2003). Most prior studies have tested for deterrent effects on homicide rates generally. The current study looks for a deterrent effect on a specific type of capital crime; the felonious killing of law enforcement officers. Two separate hypotheses were tested. First, the presence of a capital punishment statute will deter this specific type of homicide in a given year. Second, executions for any reason will reduce the likelihood of this specific type of homicide in the subsequent year. Results indicate no causal connection between rates of law enforcement officers being killed and the presence of a capital punishment statute. Further research at state and local levels is needed to test for more instances of potentially deterrable capital crimes.