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NCJ Number: 51336 Find in a Library
Title: WITHERSPOON QUESTION - THE SOCIAL SCIENCE AND THE EVIDENCE
Journal: NLADA BRIEFCASE  Volume:35  Issue:4  Dated:(SEPTEMBER 1978)  Pages:99-103,125
Author(s): F J GIRSH
Corporate Author: National Legal Aid and Defender Assoc
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 6
Sponsoring Agency: National Legal Aid and Defender Assoc
Washington, DC 20036
UMI Dissertation Services
Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1346
Sale Source: UMI Dissertation Services
300 North Zeeb Road
P.O. Box 1346
Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1346
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: EMPIRICAL DATA RELEVANT TO THE QUESTION OF WHETHER JURORS SHOULD BE DISQUALIFIED ON THE GROUNDS OF THEIR SCRUPLES AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY ARE REVIEWED.
Abstract: THE STUDIES CITED ARE UNUSUAL IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCE LITERATURE IN THAT THEY ALL BASICALLY AGREE. USING DIFFERENT POPULATIONS, GEOGRAPHICAL AREAS, AND MEASURES, MOST ESSENTIALLY CONFIRM ONE OR MORE HYPOTHESES CONCERNING THE EXISTENCE OF A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN A PERSON'S ATTITUDE TOWARD THE DEATH PENALTY AND HIS OR HER TENDENCY TO CONVICT. EACH OF THE STUDIES CONTAINS SOME FLAWS (LACK OF REPRESENTATIVENESS IN THE SAMPLE, INFERENTIAL NATURE OF ASSUMPTIONS), AND NONE DEALS WITH PEOPLE WHO HAVE REAL DECISIONS TO MAKE ABOUT ANOTHER PERSON'S LIFE IN A GROUP SITUATION. HOWEVER, TAKEN TOGETHER, THE STUDIES SUGGEST THE FOLLOWING CONCLUSIONS: (1) ATTITUDE TOWARD THE DEATH PENALTY IS NOT ISOLATED IN THE PERSONALITY, BUT APPEARS TO BE EMBEDDED IN A CONTEXT OF POLITICAL CONSERVATISM, DOGMATISM, AUTHORITARIANISM, LACK OF SELF-DOUBT, AND LEGAL ATTITUDES FAVORING PUNISHMENT AND CONSTITUTED AUTHORITY; (2) THERE APPEARS TO BE A POSITIVE, CONSISTENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE DEGREE TO WHICH ONE FAVORS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT AND THE READINESS WITH WHICH ONE WILL ASSESS GUILT ON A PARTICULAR SET OF FACTS AND/OR WILL BE IN AGREEMENT WITH ATTITUDES THAT MAKE CONVICTIONS MORE LIKELY; AND (3) IN ADDITION TO ATTITUDINAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THOSE FAVORING AND THOSE OPPOSING THE DEATH PENALTY, THERE ARE DEMOGRAPHIC DIFFERENCES TO SUGGEST THAT THE DEATH-QUALIFIED JURY (THAT SELECTED TO EXCLUDE PEOPLE WHO SAY THEY ARE AGAINST CAPITAL PUNISHMENT) IS LIKELY TO HAVE A SMALLER PROPORTION OF NONWHITES, WOMEN, PEOPLE WITH A LOT OR A LITTLE FORMAL EDUCATION, NONPROTESTANTS, YOUTHS, HOUSEWIVES, AND UNSKILLED WORKERS THAN IS THE CASE WITH REGULAR JURIES FOR LESS SERIOUS OFFENSES. THE COURTS ARE URGED TO CONSIDER THE EMPIRICAL DATA IN SUPPORT OF THE CONTENTION THAT A DEATH-QUALIFIED JURY IS A VIOLATION OF DUE PROCESS. BY ASKING POTENTIAL JURORS ABOUT THEIR ATTITUDES TOWARD CAPITAL PUNISHMENT AND ELIMINATING SOME BECAUSE OF THEIR ATTITUDES, THE LEGAL SYSTEM BURDENS DEFENDANTS VULNERABLE TO THE MOST SEVERE AND IRREVERSIBLE OF PENALTIES AND MOST IN NEED OF IMPARTIALITY WITH A JURY THAT IS MORE LIKELY TO FIND GUILT THAN WOULD BE A JURY NOT SO 'QUALIFIED.' (AUTHOR ABSTRACT MODIFIED--LKM)
Index Term(s): Attitudes; Capital punishment; Jury selection; Studies
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=51336

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