Undeterred murder

Using the death penalty to deter crime is an idea as old as the Garden of Eden. God told Adam and Eve, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). It didn’t work then—they chomped away at the fruit from the forbidden tree—and, apparently, it doesn’t work any better now.

The 10 states with the highest murder rates per 100,000 in both 2003 and 2004 all had the death penalty.


State — Murder rate/100,000

Louisiana 13.0
Maryland 9.5
Mississippi 9.3
Nevada 8.8
Arizona 7.9
Georgia 7.6
South Carolina 7.2
California 6.8
Tennessee 6.8
Alabama 6.6


State — Murder rate/100,000

Louisiana 12.7
Maryland 9.4
New Mexico 8.9
Mississippi 7.8
Nevada 7.4
Arizona 7.2
Georgia 6.9
South Carolina 6.9
California 6.7
Arkansas 6.4

Sources: FBI 2004 Uniform Crime Report and the Death Penalty Information Center.