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Race, Conceptions of Crime and Justice, and Support for the Death Penalty

Robert L. Young
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 54, No. 1 (Mar., 1991), pp. 67-75
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2786789
Page Count: 9
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Race, Conceptions of Crime and Justice, and Support for the Death Penalty
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Abstract

This research was designed to test the idea that blacks' and whites' attitudes reflect fundamentally different ways of conceptualizing the issue of capital punishment. It was hypothesized that support for the death penalty among whites is based on whether they attribute criminal behavior to characteristics of the criminal or to the environment. Support among blacks, however, is predicted to be influenced primarily by perceptions of sentencing equity and by a lack of trust in representatives of the criminal justice system. Analysis of a sample of respondents from the Detroit area provides evidence in favor of the responsibility attribution model for whites, whereas support among blacks is found to relate primarily to degree of trust in the police but not to the perception of sentencing inequities.

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