Donohue, John

John J. Donohue is the C. Wendell and Edith M. Carlsmith Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and a research associate for the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Time To Kill The Death Penalty?

By John J. Donohue
National Bureau of Economic Research

Forty years ago this week, the U.S. Supreme Court in Furman v. Georgia struck down the death penalty on the ground that it was applied in an arbitrary manner. Four years later, the Supreme Court accepted the constitutionality of “new and improved” death penalty statutes that were supposed to eliminate the defects condemned in Furman. In bringing back the death penalty in 1976, the Court also cited studies suggesting that executions save lives.   

Four decades later, there is plenty of evidence that the death penalty continues to be applied in an unfair manner and not a shred of evidence that the death penalty deters.