Last statements, public opinion, death penalty, factorial survey, capital punishment
There has been an increase in writings that address the last statements of condemned offenders. Many of these writings suggest that exposure to the humanity sometimes exhibited in these last statements may steer public opinion against the death penalty. This dissertation tests this suggestion by exposing 400 participants to randomly generated vignettes containing various capital crimes, demographic characteristics, and last statements. The survey data are analyzed utilizing multilevel modeling. Study results include the effects of varying levels of demonstrated humanity in the last statements of condemned offenders on public opinion, and whether specific demographic characteristics appear to influence study participant responses. Findings showed no statistically significant results that indicate any effect on death penalty opinion as a result of reading last statements demonstrating humanity. Condemned inmates who did not provide a statement, or stated they had nothing to say, elicited higher levels of confidence that executing them was the right thing to do. Condemned inmates who claimed innocence in their last statements were associated with the lowest level of respondent confidence that execution was the right thing to do, and a higher level of support for life without parole as an alternative punishment. Recommendations for further research are discussed.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences, Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic;
Colyer, Timothy P., "Estimating The Effects Of Condemned Inmates' Last Statements On Public Opinion About The Death Penalty: A Factorial Survey Approach" (2012). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2112.