Capital Punishment

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Capital Punishment

Category : Articles

Ashley Bayles
Prof. Slagter
PS 101
16 November 2007
Topic: Capital Punishment
Introduction
The issues of capital punishment are prevalent in today??™s world. The United State, being the developed country that it is, still acting upon the death penalty is seem unreal to me. Accurate knowledge for all would be a good characteristic to have in making the decision about the death penalty. I plan to address the factual and public opinion aspect of the death penalty and come to some type of resolution of why was it reintroduced, what are justifications for it and the people who are in agreement of the death penalty.
Literature Review
Capital punishment is a major issue in today??™s world. Many factors are involved in capital punishment. In my research, I found that a simple explanation as to why people support the death penalty is because supporters do not know the arguments against the death penalty or have been misinformed (Koppen, 2002, p. 79). Furthermore, if the population were informed, a large majority would oppose the death penalty (Koppen, 2002, p. 79). However, to the extent that support for the death penalty is based on retribution or revenge, more information does not increase opposition to the death penalty (Koppen, 2002, p. 79). This idea being ignorant of the facts about the death penalty is said to come from former Justice Thurgood Marshall of the US Supreme Court.
The abolishment and re-establishment of the death penalty has being taken into effect through many years. In the 25 years since the reinstatement of capital punishment in 1976, the frequency of executions has increased (stated in 2002) to the point where executions are more or less a routine event (Garland, 2002, p. 460). Texas was carrying out executions every other week during the time (Garland 2002: 460). According to the Death Penalty Information Center (2001), between 1973 and 2001, 98 people in 22 states have been sentenced to death and subsequently been found innocent. The rate of prejudicial error in the American capital punishment system was 68 percent, which is to say that courts found serious, reversible error in nearly seven to ten of the thousands of capital sentences that were fully reviewed during this time (Garland, 2002, p. 460).
In 2000, political conflict over capital punishment was heavily favored in traditionalist over progressives (Singh, p. 341). Between 1988 and 1998, for example, the states of Kansas, New York, and New Hampshire reintroduced the death penalty, and no states abolished it (Singh 2000, p. 341). As of 2000, capital punishment is legal in 38 American States and for the federal government. Approved methods of execution include death by firing squad, electrocution, poison gas, hanging and lethal injection which was first introduced in Oklahoma in 1977 (Singh, p. 342). The United States remains the only developed country to use capital punishment and one of the few nations that still execute juveniles (Singh, 2000, p. 342). Although the eighth Amendment prohibits ???cruel and unusual punishment,??? this was meant to prevent barbaric punishments such as crucifixion or burning at the stake rather capital punishment per se??” to restrict the methods of implementation rather than to outlaw the principle (Singh, 2000, p. 343).
As of 2004, the death penalty was a universal feature of criminal justice systems (Culbert, 2004, p. 563). It was during this time an author by the name of Franklin E. Zimring says that the vigilante mind set is one in which the citizens assumes that criminals are clearly identified enemies of the community rather than members of it (Culbert, 2004, p. 565). Culbert legitimizes this statement by saying that the community has the right to defend itself form alien enemies and any legal prerequisites to punishment are resented as unnecessary and potentially disabling (Culbert, 2004, p. 565). In the book, When the States Kills the author Sarat opposes the death penalty on the grounds that the practice of capital punishment damages American legal values and puts the very legitimacy of law itself at risk (Culbert, 2004, p. 565). I find it strange because it is not often that someone is trying to protect the law. In the book From Noose to Needle, the author Timothy V. Kaufman- Osborn says, the history of capital punishment in the United States is a story about the liberal state??™s struggle to consolidate its claim to sovereign authority, a claim that depends both on the use of the lethal force and promises of political rationalization (Culbert, 2004, p. 567). Kaufman also argues that an examination of the practices of capital punishment reveals the political character of the doctrine of the separation of powers and ultimately rewards opponents of capital punishment with an opportunity to challenge sovereign pretensions (Culbert, 2004, p. 567).
Moving into current date, capital punishment is becoming less and less common throughout the world (Messner, 2006, p. 560). A new psychological language that depicts capital punishments as providing ??? closure??? for victim??™s family, capital trials and executions have been transformed into social practices for assisting victims (Messner, 2006, p. 562). In essence, capital punishment is rendered palatable, despite a deep suspicion of government, because it has been symbolically ???degovernmentalized??? and converted into a form of victim compensation (Messner, 2006, p. 562).

Methods
The data for this paper is a non-random survey taken by BSC students in 2004. I will be using the SOPS2004 data set. The survey was anonymous and voluntary. The total sample size was 556. Forty, of the cases are uncertain so there are in 516 valid cases. In order to test my hypothesis I will use several contingency tables. Gamma is the measure of association I will use to distinguish the stronger from the weaker predictors. A gamma that is closer to +1.0 or -1.0 is stronger than a gamma that is near zero. For my literature review, I used the Birmingham Southern library databases and indexes to find relevant research on capital punishment. My dependent variable deathp, which is a label for does one favor the death penalty. The value labels deathp are 1 for favor, 2 for oppose, and 9 for uncertain but to have more accurate results I made 9 a missing value. My independent variable is changing, which did not have a label but basically just stood for the notion that the world is changing and people should change their views about what is right or wrong according to those changes. The value labels for changing are 1 for strongly disagree, 2 for somewhat disagree, 3 for neutral, 4 for somewhat agree, 5 for strongly agree, and 9 for N/A. I recoded the variable changing to Changing2 to condense to choices down to agree or disagree with 1 being disagree and 2 being agree. I have 6 control variables. The first is race, which is a label for race. The value labels are 1 for white, 2 for black, 3 for Hispanic, and 9 for other. I just want to compare between black and white people so I made the values 3 and 9 missing. The second is sex, which is a label for gender. The value labels for sex are 1 for male and 2 for female. The third is marstat, which is a label for marital status. The value labels are 1 for married, 2 for single, 3 for divorced, 4 for separated, 5 for widowed, and 9 for refused to answer. I made value 9 a missing value. The fourth is bible, which is a label for the views one might have of the Bible. The value labels are 1 for word of God- but not literal, 2 for actual word of God- literal, 3 for not necessarily the word of God, and 9 for uncertain. I made the value 9 a missing value. The fifth is trackus, which stands for is the United States on the right track. The value labels are 1 for right direction, 2 for wrong track, and 9 for uncertain. I made 9 a missing value. The last control variable is partyid, which is a label for political part identification. The value labels are 1 for Democrat, 2 for lean Democrat, 3 for strictly independent, 4 for lean Republican, 5 for Republican, and 9 for refused. I recode partyid into PartyId2 so that I could just have Democrat and Republican Id making 1 Democrat and 2 Republican. Items from the questionnaire are as follows:
Q1. Now, I need some information about you.
Are you a: male . . . _____ 8-1
or Female . . _____ -2

May I ask your marital status:
Married . . _____ 9-1
Single. . . _____ -2
Divorced. . _____ -3
Separated . _____ -4
Widowed . . _____ -5
Refused . . _____ -9

May I ask your race: white . . . _____10-1
Black/A-A . _____ -2
Hispanic. . _____ -3
Other . . . _____ -4
Q2. Generally speaking, when you think about how things are going in America, would you say

our country is headed in the right direction or that we are off on the wrong track

Right direction . . . _____ 11-1
Wrong track . . . . . _____ -2
Uncertain . . . . . . _____ -9

Q14. Do you favor or oppose the death penalty for persons convicted of murder
Favor . . . . . . . . _____ 23-1
Oppose. . . . . . . . _____ -2
Uncertain . . . . . . _____ -9

Q27. The world is always changing and we should adjust our views of what is right or wrong to
those changes.

Q21. People view the BIBLE in different ways. Which of these comes closest to your view
The Bible is the word of God but not everything
in it should be taken literally word for word. . _____19-1
The Bible is the actual word of God and is to be
Taken literally, word for word . . . . . . . . . _____ -2
The Bible is a book written by men inspired by God but
is not necessarily the word of God . . . . . . . _____ -3
DK / UNCERTAIN / other. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . _____ -9
S8. When it comes to politics, generally speaking, do you consider yourself to be a Democrat, a
Republican, or something else [IF INDY: ???Well, do you lean more to the Democrats or more to the

Republicans.???]
Democrat. . . . . . . . . . _____ 49-1
Lean Democrat . . . . . . . _____ -2
Strictly Independent. . . . _____ -3
Lean Republican . . . . . . _____ -4
Republican. . . . . . . . . _____ -5
Refused . . . . . . . . . . _____ -9

Analysis
I. The non- directional- The views one have one whether they agree or disagree that the world is changing and we should adjust our views of what is right or wrong to those changes are related to whether or not people favor or oppose the death penalty. The directional- People who agree that the world is changing and that we should adjust or views about what is right or wrong according to those changes favor the death penalty. Null- There are no influential effects that a person??™s views on whether they agree or disagree that the world is changing and we should adjust our views of what is right or wrong to those changes is related to whether or not people favor or oppose the death penalty

Table 1
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Table 1 shows that 75.9% of people who agree that the world is changing are in favor the death penalty and 24.1% who disagree are in oppose of the death penalty. Wit that being said my hypothesis is supported because 51.8% more people who believe the world is changing favor the death penalty. The gamma is .175, which means there is a modest positive association between the variables.
Table 2 analyzes the relationship between the views of a changing society, favor of the
death penalty and race. The effect of being white on the issue of favoring or opposing the death
penalty is the same among people who agree or disagree that the world is changing and people should adjust their views of what is right or wrong according to those changes. The effect of being black on the issue of favoring or opposing the death penalty is different among people who agree or disagree the world is changing and people should adjust their views of what is right and wrong according to those changes.
Table 2
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Table 2 shows that 83.9% of white who agree that the world is changing are in favor of the death penalty where only 54% of black who agree that the world is changing are in favor of the death penalty. So, 29.9% more of whites who agree that the world is changing are in favor of the death penalty. This table shows that white people favor the death penalty more than blacks do. The gamma for whites is .078, which means there is a weak positive association with the other two variables. The gamma for blacks is -.114, which means there are a modest negative association wit the other two variables.
Table 3 analyzes the relationship between the views of a changing society, favor of the death penalty and sex. The effect of being male on the issue of favoring or opposing the death
penalty is the same among people who agree or disagree that the world is changing and people should adjust their views of what is right or wrong according to those changes. The effect of being female on the issue of favoring or opposing the death penalty is different among people who agree or disagree the world is changing and people should adjust their views of what is right and wrong according to those changes.
Table 3
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Table 3 shows 83.6% of males who agree that the world is changing favor the death penalty where only 69.5 of females who agree that the world is changing favor the death penalty. Therefore, 14.1% more males are in favor of the death penalty then females. Males favor the death penalty more then females. The gamma for males is .104, which means there is a modest positive association between the other two variables. The gamma for females is .192 there is a modest positive association between the other two variables.
Table 4 analyzes the relationship between the views of a changing society, favor of the death penalty and marital status. The effect of being married on the issue of favoring or opposing the death penalty is the same among people who agree or disagree that the world is changing and people should adjust their views of what is right or wrong according to those changes. The effect of being single on the issue of favoring or opposing the death penalty is different among people who agree or disagree the world is changing and people should adjust their views of what is right and wrong according to those changes.
Table 4
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Table 4 shows 81.1% of married people who agree that the world is changing is in favor of the death penalty where as 66.7% of single people who agree that the world is changing is in favor of the death penalty. Therefore, 14.4 % more married people are in favor of the death penalty more than single people. Married people favor the death penalty than single people. The gamma for married people is .111, which means there is a modest positive association between the other two variables. The gamma for single people is .022, which means there is a weak positive association between the other two variables.
Table 5 analyzes the relationship between the views of a changing society, favor of the death penalty and views of the Bible. The effect of believing the Bible is the literal word of God on the issue of favoring or opposing the death penalty is the same among people who agree or disagree that the world is changing and people should adjust their views of what is right or wrong according to those changes. The effect of believing the Bible is not the literal word of God on the issue of favoring or opposing the death penalty is different among people who agree or disagree the world is changing and people should adjust their views of what is right and wrong according to those changes.

Table 5
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Table 5 shows that 79.2% of people who agree that the world is changing, that the Bible is not the literal word of God favor the death penalty where as 76.6% of people who agree that the world is changing, and that the Bible is the literal word of God favor the death penalty. Although, the difference is only 2.4% this still shows that people who don??™t take the Bible as the literal word of God favor the death penalty more than those who do take the Bible literally. The gamma of the word not being the literal word of god is -.088, which means that there is a weak negative association between the other two variables. The gamma of the Bible being the literal words of God is .302, which means that there is a moderate positive association between the other two variables.
Table 6 analyzes the relationship between the views of a changing society, favor of the death penalty and if the US is on the right track. The effect of believing the US is on the right track on the issue of favoring or opposing the death penalty is the same among people who agree or disagree that the world is changing and people should adjust their views of what is right or wrong according to those changes. The effect of believing the US is on the wrong track on the issue of favoring or opposing the death penalty is different among people who agree or disagree the world is changing and people should adjust their views of what is right and wrong according to those changes.
Table 6
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Table 6 shows that 81.5% of people who agree that the world is changing and that the US is on the right track are in favor of the death penalty where as only 67.6% of people who believes that the world is changing and that the US is on the wrong track favors the death penalty. Therefore, 13.9% more people who believe that the world is changing and that the US is on the right track are in favor of the death penalty more than those who believe the US is on the wrong track. The gamma of the right direction is .183, which means there is a modest positive association between the other two variables. The gamma of the wrong track is .226, which means there is a modest positive association between the two other variables.
Table 7 analyzes the relationship between the views of a changing society, favor of the death penalty and party id. The effect of republican party id on the issue of favoring or opposing the death penalty is the same among people who agree or disagree that the world is changing and people should adjust their views of what is right or wrong according to those changes. The effect of democrat party id on the issue of favoring or opposing the death penalty is different among people who agree or disagree the world is changing and people should adjust their views of what is right and wrong according to those changes.

Table 7
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Table 7 shows that 87.9% of republican who believe that the world is changing are in favor of the death penalty where as 64.6% of democrats who believe the world is changing are in favor of the death penalty. Therefore, 23.3% more of republican who believe that the world is changing are in favor of the death penalty more than democrats. The gamma of democrat is .066, which means that there is a weak positive association between this variable and the other two. The gamma for republican is .093, which means there is a weak positive association between his variable and the other two.

Discussion and Conclusion
There results of my analysis really took me for a loop. I could not believe that the numbers were so high of the people who favored the death penalty. The numbers were high in both the research of my literature and in my analysis. There were not many similarities between the literature and the analysis but I believe this was the case because the literature was more empirical evidence then the analysis. However, the two did share the notion that the death penalty is a real issue in today??™s world and that the process of trying to diminish its use is rather slow. My hypotheses came from the things that I figured would tie into the death penalty. To simply put it I gathered my hypotheses from my normative thinking. This seemed to be a good way for me to go about my research because the results were as I predicted they would be. Some suggestions I would offer for additional research is to look into how age would play a role in the death penalty. In addition, I would research juvenile execution in more detail. I would do these extra research the by trying to find more books on my topic instead of databases and probable get more statistics. I would say my research was valuable because I believe that the death penalty is a topic that could discussed a lot more so that people will not be ignorant of the facts about the death penalty.

Bibliography
Culbert, J. L. (2004). Why still kill reconsidering capital punishment in the united states. Political Theory, 32(4), 563-569. Retrieved November 9, 2007, from CSA Worldwide Political Science Abstracts database.
Garland, D. (2002). The cultural uses of capital punishment. Punishment and Society, 4(4), 459-487. Retrieved November 9, 2007, from CSA Worldwide Political Science Abstracts database.
Messner, S. F., Baumer, E. P., & Rosenfeld, R. (2006). Distrust of government, the vigilante tradition, and support for capital punishment. Law & Society Review, 40(3), 559-590. Retrieved November 9, 2007, from CSA Worldwide Political Science Abstracts database.
Singh, R. (2000). Capital punishment in the united states: A new abolitionism Political Quarterly, 71(3), 341-351. Retrieved November 9, 2007, from CSA Worldwide Political Science Abstracts database.
Van Koppen, P. J., Hessing, D. J., & De Poot, C. J. (2002). Public reasons for abolition and retention of the death penalty. International Criminal Justice Review, 12, 77-92. Retrieved November 9, 2007, from CSA Worldwide Political Science Abstracts database.