SOCI 300 CAPPUN Paper Body

SOCI 300 CAPPUN Paper Body - 1 Introduction Introduction...

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1 Introduction Introduction should go here followed by the research question. Literature Review Introduction A review of the relevant literature suggests four main themes relevant to public support for the death penalty (DPS): 1) The effect of public opinion on death penalty law and policy; 2) trends over time in support for the death penalty; 3) socio-demographic correlates of death penalty support, with gender and political orientation emerging as particularly strong predictors of DPS; and 4) theoretical explanations for variations in death penalty support, with models that offer explanations for gender and political orientation variations in DPS particularly salient. The effect of public opinion on death penalty law and policy Rather than basing DPS on factual or rational reasoning, the public, more specifically, Americans base their opinion on emotion. Over the years, support for the death penalty has affected many laws and policies. For example, in the 1972 Supreme Court decision of Furman v. Georgia, all of the justices agreed that the legality of capital punishment was dependent upon the opinion of the public. Gregg v. Georgia (1976) was the case that revisited the constitutionality of the death penalty. Once again, capital punishment was decidedly constitutional (Ellsworth and Gross, 1994). Notably, a 66% of Americans had DPS at the time of the second Supreme Court decision. In the 2000 presidential campaign, Governor Bush’s previous handling of the death penalty had a small (18%), but negative influence on his political campaign (Jones, 2000). Trends over time in support for the death penalty
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2 DPS over time has fluxuated; support for capital punishment has increased, plateaued, and is now slowly decreasing. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows that a majority (66%) of Americans still support the death penalty; while 26% oppose capital punishment (Jones, 2000). Within thirty years, the death penalty was abolished in West Germany, Britain, France, and Canada (Ellsworth and Gross, 1994). In September of 1994, DPS reached a peak of 80% in favor of capital punishment. The gap has been declined to a 66% of those in favor of the death penalty in as recent as June of 2000 (Jones, 2000). Socio-demographic correlates of death penalty support The respondents’ age, sex, race, socio-economic status, region, and religion all have an effect DPS. Men favor the death penalty more than women tend to, white respondents more than black respondents, republicans more than democrats, and the middle-class more than the poor. Also, surbabanites have more DPS than those living in the city or rural areas (Ellsworth and Gross, 1994). Explanations DPS variations by gender and political orientation Explanations of support for capital punishment can be explained by gender, political orientation, and symbolism. Because women are found to be more religious than men, their Christian ideologies of forgiveness lower support for the death penalty. Racial prejudice from women is nominal; therefore, it has very little effect on women’s
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This note was uploaded on 04/06/2008 for the course SOCI 300 taught by Professor Garcia during the Spring '08 term at Towson.

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SOCI 300 CAPPUN Paper Body - 1 Introduction Introduction...

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