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NCJ Number: NCJ 242163    
Title: Race, Racism, and Support for Capital Punishment (From Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, Volume 37, P 45-96, 2008, Michael Tonry, ed. - See NCJ-242161)
Author(s): James D. Unnever ; Francis T. Cullen ; Cheryl Lero Jonson
Date Published: 2008
Page Count: 52
  Annotation: This essay discusses the racial disparity on the death penalty.
Abstract: There is a clear racial divide in support for the death penalty, with Whites favoring and Blacks opposing this sanction. This divide has persisted for decades and remains statistically and substantively significant even when controls are introduced for the known correlates of death penalty attitudes. A meaningful portion of this chasm is explained, however, by racism, with Whites who manifest animus to Blacks being more likely to embrace the lethal punishment of offenders. This relationship likely exists cross-nationally. Data from Great Britain, France, Spain, and Japan show that animosity to racial or ethnic minorities predicts support for capital punishment in these nations. In the United States, the greater support for capital punishment among Whites, particularly those who harbor racial or ethnic resentments, undermines the legitimacy of the state and is use of the ultimate penalty. Consistent with conflict theory, White support of the death penalty is likely based on the perceived "social threat" posed by racial, ethnic, and immigrant groups. African-American opposition to the death penalty is perhaps best explained by a historically rooted fear of state power, which is captured by the conce4pt of the "state threat" hypothesis. (Published Abstract)
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Capital punishment ; Sentencing disparity ; Racial discrimination ; Public Opinion of Corrections ; Black/White Attitude Comparisons
Sale Source: University of Chicago Press
1427 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States of America
Publisher URL: 
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Country: United States of America
Language: English
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