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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 68256 Find in a Library
Title: GARY GILMORE LETTERS - A STUDY OF PEOPLE WHO WROTE A CONDEMNED KILLER
Author(s): D RATCLIFF; R J HOWELL
Corporate Author: Utah Division of Corrections Research and Statistics
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 37
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Utah Division of Corrections Research and Statistics
Salt Lake City, UT 84110
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: PURPOSES AND MOTIVATIONS WHICH LED PEOPLE TO WRITE TO CONDEMNED MURDERER GARY GILMORE WERE STUDIED THOUGH AN ANALYSIS OF 404 LETTERS TO GILMORE AND A QUESTIONNAIRE SURVEY OF THE LETTERS' WRITERS.
Abstract: GILMORE, EXECUTED ON JANUARY 17, 1977, WAS THE FIRST PERSON EXECUTED IN THE U.S. IN 11 YEARS. THE LETTERS RESULTED FROM THE WIDE PUBLICITY GIVEN TO HIS STORY. THE 404 LETTERS STUDIED REPRESENTED ALL 202 NONRELIGIOUS LETTERS KNOWN TO HAVE BEEN READ BY GILMORE AND A RANDOM SAMPLE OF 202 OF THE RELIGOUS LETTERS TO GILMORE. RELIGIOUS LETTERS COMPRISED ABOUT 80 PERCENT OF THE 1,497 LETTERS HE WAS KNOW TO HAVE READ. THE LETTERS WERE ANALYZED USING AN OBJECTIVE RATING SYSTEM WHICH COVERED IDEOLOGICAL CONTEXT, EMOTIONAL CONTENT, THE CAPITAL PUNISHMENT ISSUE, AND THE AUTHOR'S MENTAL HEALTH. LETTERS WERE RATED INDEPENDENTLY BY THREE PSYCHOLOGISTS. THE QUESTIONNAIRE GATHERED DATA ON THE WRITERS' DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS AND THE EFFECT GILMORE HAD ON THE WRITER. THE RESPONSE RATE WAS 66 PERCENT FOR THE RELIGIOUS GROUP AND 62 PERCENT FOR THE NONRELIGIOUS GROUP. RESULTS INDICATED THAT WRITERS REPRESENTED A TYPICAL SAMPLING OF THE U.S. POPULATION. THE 10 PERCENT ESTIMATED INCIDENCE OF SEVERE MENTAL DISORDERS WAS SIMILAR TO THAT OF THE GENERAL POPULATION. ALTHOUGH MOST PEOPLE WROTE CONCERNING RELIGIOUS THEMES, OTHER MOTIVATING INFLUENCES WERE DEATH CONCERNS, ATTITUDES CONCERNING CAPITAL PUNISHMENT, THE CHARISMATIC AND HEROIC ASPECTS OF GILMORE'S PERSONALITY AND BEHAVIOR, AND THE EXPRESSION OF COMPASSION AND CONCERN TOWARD GILMORE AS AN INDIVIDUAL. REFERENCE LISTS WITH 24 CITATIONS, A FOOTNOTE, A TABLE, AND AN APPENDED STUDY EXPLAINING THE METHODS USED TO ASSESS ATTITUDES AND PERSONALITY TRAITS OF LETTER WRITERS ARE INCLUDED.
Index Term(s): Capital punishment; Communications; Death row inmates; Psychological evaluation; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Studies; United States of America
Note: RESEARCH REPORT N 2
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=68256

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