An Accurate Indicator Of Attitudes Toward Capital Punishment

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Public opinion, whether favoring or opposing, is based on a myriad of factors. Researchers have concluded that demographic characteristics, such as gender, religion, socioeconomic status, and education play a pivotal role in an individual’s attitude toward social issues. Not all research, however, finds this to be an accurate indicator of attitudes toward capital punishment. A comparison of judicial and public opinion indicated no correlation between demographic characteristics, notably income and religion, on public perspective (Cairns & Koehler, 2014). Comparatively, values and morals are also relevant to public opinion on such matters and the death penalty is no exception. According to a study conducted by Lambert et al. (2014), “About 73% of the U.S. male respondents supported capital punishment to one degree or another, whereas only 56% of the U.S. female respondents supported the death penalty” (p. 56). Although this study was based on a sample of 20,000 college students attending a Midwestern U.S. institution, the results are in alignment with other studies conducted on the general population. A similar study, surveying 927 college students attending a mid-sized university in California or Texas, revealed that 79.6% of male respondents and 68.5% of female respondents support the death penalty (Vollum et al., 2009, p. 227). In general, researchers have discovered that a large majority of the female population supports a rehabilitation approach to crime because of social roles which have been assigned over time. Correspondingly, research has shown a propensity for a disciplinary approach from the male population for the same reason. Contrary to this belief, Stack declares that “even though men are more likely to favor the dea... ... middle of paper ... ...g standards of decency’ ( Lilly, 2013, p. 110). Society all but demands Public opinion nationwide, however, does not necessarily appear to follow the same trend. Research by Cairns and Koehler (2014) observed respondents to believe that juveniles need to “pay for their crimes” in the same manner as adults. Despite public opinion being viewed as justification for judicial decisions, the recent actions of the Supreme Court illustrate some divide between public opinion and current judicial policies. It is important to note that in today 's society, the capital punishment debate reaches beyond the legal realm and extents to academia as well as to the media. Both arenas have the potential to contribute to the forward progression of the capital punishment debate, but there is also a potential for negative impact as a result of the varying degrees of individual perception.

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