Name(s) of Faculty Adviser/Mentor

David Kimball

What description best describes your work?

Scholarship (you examine existing sources)

Major

Political Science

Document Type

Paper

Abstract

The death penalty in the United States has its set of controversies from the people who support and those who oppose the policy. I want to examine how the death penalty and public opinion has changed over time. I also want to examine if there are statistical differences in regard to gender and political party. I would also like to compare different generations, such as millennials and baby boomers, to see if they vary in support for the death penalty. The last variable I would like to analyze is difference in regard to race and ethnicities. As a Deputy Juvenile Officer, this topic is important to me because I work daily in the criminal justice field. Advancements in criminal reform have been happening for the juvenile world, but I am not as up to date on issues facing the adult courts. In the juvenile world, criminal justice is restorative and rehabilitative. In the adult world, the system is punitive based. Since I work on the side of rehabilitation, I am interested in seeing how others view the criminal justice world. This is important to me because public opinion affects the legislation on how I am supposed to fulfill my job duties. The death penalty argument is also important to me because of the number of individuals on death row, the fact that there have been people on death row who have been exonerated, and there are racial disparities in the implementation. Capital punishment is legal in 29 of the 50 states and according the Criminal Justice Project of the NAACP, currently 2,6734 people are on death row (Death Penalty Fast Facts, 2019). There have been 165 death row exonerations since 1973 with 29 of those exonerations being from Florida (Death Penalty Fast Facts, 2019). According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the death penalty is disproportionate to people of color by 43%. Another discrepancy mentioned by the ACLU is that there have been 12 cases where a white defendant was executed for the murder of a black victim compared to 3 178 black defendants executed for the murders of white victims (Race and Death Penalty). The sheer number of individuals on death row with a staggering number of exonerations, and racial discrepancies make the topic important and interesting and it will be informative to see if public opinion has changed when new information comes to life. The statistical analyses in this study examined different demographic groups regarding support for capital punishment. This research compared race, sex, and party affiliation to see if they are in favor of the death penalty, how important is the issue of capital punishment, and how firm they are in their opinions. On a broad analysis, Whites, Republicans, and men tend to be more in favor of the use of capital punishment, but Blacks on the other hand are more likely to oppose it and are more firm in their opinion.

Publication Date

4-24-2020

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