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Death Penalty Sentiment in the United States

Hans Zeisel and Alec M. Gallup
Journal of Quantitative Criminology
Vol. 5, No. 3 (September 1989), pp. 285-296
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23365525
Page Count: 12
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Death Penalty Sentiment in the United States
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Abstract

Pro-death penalty sentiment, at its all-time low in 1966 at 42% of the country's adult population, steadily rose to 71% in 1986. This average percentage varies widely for various subgroups of the population—as widely as between 43 and 93% at the extremes: political leanings, ethnic background, sex, and economic status are the main determinants. Death penalty sentiments are not of uniform strength: about one-third of the pro-death penalty population might give up their position if the alternative were life without parole and if they were convinced that the death penalty is not a deterrent. In the main, death penalty sentiment is not determined by utilitarian considerations but by moralistic ones, which in turn are part of the liberal—conservative dividing lines.

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