The death penalty : a grave injustice


A 2008 Gallup poll places public support for the death penalty at 64 percent. Stemming from an observation of how little is known about the death penalty, this study sheds light on six key areas of the death penalty: cruel and unusual punishment, deterrence potential, innocence, discrimination, cost, and the challenges created for the legitimacy of America's moral leadership internationally in conjunction with our evolving standards of decency. Following a review of existing literature, six conclusions were made. The first is the methods of execution authorized in this country are not administered "painlessly," and in accordance to the Eighth Amendment. The second is there is n~ evidence to support the claim that the death penalty has a deterrent effect. The third is innocent people have been sentenced to death. The fourth is the death penalty is being applied based on legally improper criteria (race, gender, and socioeconomic class). The fifth is from a strictly financial perspective the death penalty is unreasonable. Lastly is that maintaining our moral leadership as well as the death penalty cannot be done in the eyes of the international community, and the death penalty is on the decline.

This study expands upon existing literature regarding the aforementioned six key areas of interests, through the use of a non-experimental, descriptive research survey. Results suggest that although an overwhelming majority of subjects are not knowledgeable about the death penalty, 45 percent still support the death penalty. Education may be the key to bringing a decline in support for the death penalty; those who have taken a class on the death penalty, or are currently taking one support the death penalty 17.4-19.9 percent (respectively) less than those who have never taken a class on the death penalty. In conclusion, support for the death penalty may be related to a lack of knowledge.


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Thesis Completion





Bohm, Robert M.


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Health and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Criminal Justice


Dissertations, Academic -- Health and Publc Affairs;Health and Publc Affairs -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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