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NCJ Number: 128689 Find in a Library
Title: Public Opinion and the Death Penalty in Australia
Journal: Justice Quarterly  Volume:7  Issue:3  Dated:(September 1990)  Pages:529-563
Author(s): J Kelley; J Braithwaite
Date Published: 1990
Page Count: 35
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Correlates of public support for capital punishment were examined using a representative national sample of 3,012 Australians aged 18 years and older.
Abstract: Data were collected in 1984 using personal interviews in urban areas and mail questionnaires in rural areas. Analysis showed that personal fear of crime did not explain support for capital punishment, but rating crime prevention as a high national priority did. Women were less supportive of the death penalty than men but were more supportive of stiffer sentences. Certain aspects of social and economic conservatism were not related to support for capital punishment, while other aspects were important. Relevant aspects concerned resentment toward outgroups, especially Aborigines and non-English-speaking migrants. Support for an elite leadership hypothesis was found. According to this hypothesis, when political elites abolished capital punishment in the past, it was not in response to pressure from public opinion but rather despite such pressure. The act of abolition then shifted public opinion away from support for capital punishment. Five issues merit further investigation: symbolic versus instrumental aspects of public support for capital punishment; feminist issues in criminal justice; role of the media in reproducing and shaping retributive beliefs; influence of the general personality trait of outgroup hostility on attitudes toward the death penalty; and elite leadership and opposition to the death penalty. Appendixes contain supplemental information on variables used in the analysis and supporting data. 67 references and 9 tables
Main Term(s): Capital punishment
Index Term(s): Australia; Foreign sentencing; Public Opinion of Crime
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