Here is a New York Times story about the deterrent effect of capital punishment. Let me say up front that I would support capital punishment even if it had no deterrent effect. I’m a retributivist. The following paragraph from the story staggers me:
“I personally am opposed to the death penalty,” said H. Naci Mocan, an economist at Louisiana State University and an author of a study finding that each execution saves five lives. “But my research shows that there is a deterrent effect.”
Mocan is saying, very clearly, that he values the life of one convicted murderer more than he values the lives of five innocent people. Please don’t say that the convicted murderer is known and the victims are unknown. Why should that matter? Is your life worth less when others don’t know your identity? Think of it this way: The life you save by executing a murderer may be your own.