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NCJ Number: 212395 Find in a Library
Title: Public Opinion on the Death Penalty: Analysis of Individual-Level Data From 17 Nations
Journal: International Criminal Justice Review  Volume:14  Dated:2004  Pages:69-98
Author(s): Steven Stack
Date Published: 2004
Page Count: 30
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study replicated U.S.-based findings on death-penalty support based on the theoretical perspectives of instrumentalism (deter crime) and broader symbolic orientation in a comparative analysis that involved 17 nations; it also partially tested the elite leadership hypothesis (theory that the legal abolition of the death penalty will undermine cultural support for the death penalty).
Abstract: Data were obtained from the International Social Survey Program (ISSP) (1994), which is an ongoing program of cross-national collaboration formed in 1984. Surveys were conducted in each participating nation (n=17 for the 1991 survey). Support for the death penalty was measured by the item "people convicted of murder should be subject to the death penalty." Five response options ranged from "strongly disagree" through "strongly agree." Support for the death penalty was measured by a response of "strongly agree" or "mildly agree." Measures of "instrumentalism" focused on punitiveness, level of confidence in the courts and legal system, and the rate of homicide victimization. Controls for three measures of general symbolic orientations were religious fundamentalism, a belief in free will, and authoritarianism. Information on the status of the death penalty in a nation in 1991 was used to classify the nations as retentionist or abolitionist vis-a-vis the death penalty. Multiple logistic regression analysis largely confirmed U.S.-based research, in that instrumental items on the questionnaire found that degree of punitiveness and a nation's homicide rate influenced level of support for the death penalty. Measures of symbolic orientation found to be significant in death penalty support were authoritarianism and fundamentalism. Some support was found for the elite leadership hypothesis; residents of abolitionist nations were significantly less supportive of the death penalty than residents of retentionist nations. 7 tables and 71 references
Main Term(s): Public Opinion of the Courts
Index Term(s): Abolishment of capital punishment; Capital punishment; Cross-cultural analyses; Cross-cultural comparisons; Public Opinion of Corrections
Note: This article is a revised version of a paper that was presented at the annual meetings of the Law and Society Association, Aspen, CO, in June 1998.
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