The Death Penalty In America: Who Is More Apt To Support It

2431 words - 10 pages

Cody Lonigro 12The Death Penalty in America:Who is More Apt to Support it?Cody LonigroSpring 2014 SOC 240 01The Death Penalty in America: Who is More Apt to Support it?From trial by combat to lethal injection, the death penalty has been a controversial topic in many cultures around the world. The current trend has been to abolish the death penalty within western industrialized nations, but the United States has not yet done so (Soss et. Al. 2003:398). It is still under major debate here in the United States, both the federal and state levels. One recent study shows that nearly 70% of Americans support the death penalty for first-degree murder (Sandys McGarrell 1995:189). This report was done at the time of the data I will later discuss was collected, and displays the current general views of the death penalty by the public. This topic relates directly to the lives of citizens of our country, which makes it an incredibly important discussion to have within communities. I believe that there may be specific factors involved in an individual's life that either increases or decreases their perspective on the topic. In particular, prior research has found correlations between support for the death penalty, and various aspects of an individual's social environment.In a study conducted using the general social survey data from 1972 through 1988 McGarrel (1995) found that women were less likely to support the death penalty than men. This relationship is thought to be due to the overall views on crime itself. Studies have lead researchers to predict that men favor more of a classical view on the causes of crime, which is the belief that it is solely the decision of the criminal to commit the crime, while women have a more positivistic view, asserting that things such as social conditioning, and other social causes push someone to commit a crime (Sandys McGarrel 1995). There was other research that explains how the views on the death penalty are affected by different demographics.Race has also been found to have significant affects towards an individual's view on the death penalty. One consistent result across prior studies is that whites are more apt to support the death penalty than minorities amongst the same region of the United States. One explanation for this according to Sass et. al. (2003) is the high amount of media focused on black violence in the 1990's, the time frame of both my data set and their research takes place. According to their article this trend arose due to the racialization of the issue of crime. This led to an assumed increase in violent offenses by minority members, which only proved to perpetuate the fear of minority members committing crimes. The results of the Sass et. al. study show that one of the driving factors towards the white theory of the death penalty was their level of prejudice towards other races. This study was primarily focused on the issue of race and the death penalty, but it also addressed the issue of...

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