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Death Penalty: No Solution to Illicit Drugs

NCJ Number
International Review of Penal Law Dated: (3rd and 4th Trimesters 1996) Pages: 655-700
Date Published
46 pages
This analysis of drug trafficking and drug laws in various countries concludes that the absence of capital punishment will not harm and may even strengthen efforts to address drug abuse and drug law offenses.
Some 26 countries have enacted laws that make drug-related crimes punishable by death. Seven countries have done so since 1986, contrary to the United Nations goal of reducing the scope of capital punishment and without regard to the increasing worldwide trend of abolishing capital punishment. The rationale for using capital punishment is that it will deter drug traffickers more effectively than other punishments. However, the available data do not indicate that the death penalty has had any measurable effect in reducing drug trafficking and drug abuse despite the thousands of executions that have occurred. In addition, the death penalty appears to have been introduced with little consideration of such risks as the greater likelihood that offenders will kill to avoid capture and the possibility of executing minor offenders while those behind the crimes escape punishment. Therefore, governments should recognize the futility and injustice of using capital punishment to address drug problems. They should conduct no further executions and should repeal their laws providing for the death penalty. Footnotes and appended discussions of capital punishment for drug law offenses in specific countries