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Report No. 35

VIII. Other arguments regarding deterrent effect.

323. Arguments for and against deterrent effects.-

There are certain other arguments in connection with the deterrent effect of capital punishment, which may also be added here, to make the study comprehensive:-

Arguments for deterrent effect.-

(i) Deterrent effect cannot be seen directly, but it acts on the community through its moral consciousness.

(ii) It does not operate on impulsive murderers or abnormal persons, but it does operate on normal persons.

(iii) Because of its uniqueness (as compared with imprisonment), it acts on the professional criminal also.

Arguments against deterrent effect.-

(a) Human nature is complex, and acts not by fear alone but by love, loyalty, greed, lust and many other factors.

(b) Individuals do not think of the death penalty before they act.

(c) Detection of murder is uncertain, and reduces the deterrent effect.

(d) Long delays in trial reduce the deterrent effect.

(e) Death penalty is permissive, and very few murderers are actually executed. This reduces the deterrent effect1.

(f) Executions are closed to the public. Hence the public do not feel the impact of the penalty.

1. See, for example, the figures regarding U.P., quoted in the speech of M.L. Agarwal, Lok Sabha Debates, 24-8-1956, Cols. 4345-4388.



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