Sunday, December 07, 2008

Texas murder, execution and crime rates all declining

Crime and Consequences informs us that this year we've seen:
Fewer Death Sentences in Texas: A story in the Houston Chronicle by Michael Graczyk reports that significantly fewer Texas murderers received a death sentence this year. The annual review from the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty noted that 18 executions were carried [out] this year compared with 26 in 2007. The group's Executive Director said "...officials' zeal for executions was not matched by public desire for new death sentences, as evidenced by the continued steep decline in the number of new inmates arriving on death row." What was not noted is that homicide rates in the state's two largest cities are down for the second year in a row. A Dallas Morning News story by Tanya Eiserer reports a whopping 22% drop in that city's homicides. Houston's rate was down 7% last year according to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, and had continued to decline last spring. The evacuation of Houston and devastation caused there by Hurricane Ike in September may also contributed to lower a homicide rate this fall.
I don't agree that falling murder rates entirely explain the decline in new death sentences. Two other factors - the creation of "life without parole" as the only option to death in capital cases, and changing jury attitudes in the big death penalty counties, especially Harris - IMO have more to do with Texas' recent capital trends.

In 2007, TDCJ received 51 new capital convicts, but 37 of them received sentences of LWOP - only 14 went to death row.


Anonymous said...

check the TCADP report here:

Anonymous said...

The suspension of states carrying out the death penalty earlier this year might have had something to do with lower numbers of executions this year too....

Anonymous said...

Since criminals found out they can be killed when robbing people and breaking into their homes, and that Texas are fed up with them, this too has helped lower the crime rates. Check what happened in Australia when they took away the guns. Everyone except the criminals gave up their weapons and the crime rates jumped much higher. "Kill a criminal", legally; saves the public lots of money and protects the public also.

Anonymous said...

Since criminals found out they can be killed when robbing people and breaking into their homes, and that Texas are fed up with them, this too has helped lower the crime rates.

Did you read the post? Texans have always been able to defend their homes. Crime is going down despite defendants getting the death penalty LESS often. We've had the death penalty for some time, but not LWOP, which is being given out more often. So if correlation equals causation, I'd say criminals are more afraid of life in jail than they ever were the death penalty or being shot by homeowners.

There is also little to suggest that gun laws affect crime rates. Crime in New York and California dropped faster than in Texas, and they have some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country.

Anonymous said...

If you want to measure the crime rate by the numbers of people incarcerated, here's a comparison:

UK population ~ 64 million
TX population ~ 22 million

UK prison population ~ 85,000
TX prison population ~ 185,000

The UK does not permit citizens or even many police personnel to carry guns.

Anonymous said...

Sunray - The UK has a socialist government, the US has capitalism. Capitalism is far more brutal and many crimes are committed out of despiration.

Another big difference is that in the U.S., more activities are crimes, there are more prisons to fill and consequently more prisoners.

Anonymous said...

anon @ 11.00 ~ The Labour party prefer to call themselves 'left of centre' rather than Socialist. But if you look back to when we had a Conservative government (the equivalent of your Republicans) the incarceration figure was much the same. The point I was making was in response to anon@2.30, that the 'kill em all' and gun lobby might not necesarrily reduce crime, if a society with many fewer guns has already got less crime (if that is how you want to measure crime, of course).

Anonymous said...

And while murders may be going down, so are clearance rates according to an article in todays Dallas Morning News.

According to the article, FBI figures obtained by The Associated Press show that the homicide clearance rate, as detectives call it, dropped from 91 percent in 1963 - the first year records were kept in the manner they are now - to 61 percent in 2007.

Law enforcement officials say the chief reason is a rise in drug- and gang-related killings, which are often impersonal and anonymous, and thus harder to solve than slayings among family members or friends. As a result, police departments are carrying an ever-growing number of "cold-case" murders on their books.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the decrease in the homicide rate has anything to do with the decrease in DP senetnces especially considering that it can take up to three years for someone to go to trial after committig a capital murder. I think the decrease in DP cases is the result of many factors especially considering the increase in number of exonerees.