Capital Punishment: Arguments for Life and Death

By Honeyman, Jennifer C.; Ogloff, James R. | Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, January 1996 | Go to article overview

Capital Punishment: Arguments for Life and Death


Honeyman, Jennifer C., Ogloff, James R., Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science


Abstract

Despite capital punishment having been abolished in Canada 20 years ago, the majority of Canadians continue to favour the death penalty as a sentencing option. In this study, a 2 x 6 design was employed to investigate the effects that argument position (for or against the death penalty) and type of justification for punishment (deterrence, morality, rehabilitation, incapacitation, economic, and possibility of mistake) have on participants' sentence recommendations for a defendant found guilty of first degree murder. Results indicated that only those arguments in favour of the death penalty, based on retribution, economics, and impossibility of mistake, were effective in influencing participants to recommend that the accused be sentenced to death. Compared to participants who recommended a life sentence, those who recommended the death penalty were found to have significantly higher scores on a measure of vengeance.

Resume

Bien que la peine capitale ait ete abolie au Canada il y a vingt ans, la majorite de la population canadienne continue de favoriser la peine de mort comme possibilite de sentence. Dans cette etude, on a eu recours a une grille de 2 sur 6 pour etudier les effets que la prise de position (pour ou contre la peine de mort) et les motifs invoques (dissuasion, moralite, rehabilitation, neutralisation, raison economique et possibilite d'erreur) ont sur les recommandations de peine formulees par les participants pour inculper une personne reconnue coupable de meurtre premedite. Les resultats demontrent que seuls les arguments en faveur de la peine capitale bases sur le chatiment impose au crime, les facteurs economiques et l'impossibilite qu'il y ait erreur pouvaient influencer efficacement les participants a recommander que l'accuse recoive la peine de mort. Comparativement aux participants ayant recommande une peine d'emprisonnement a vie, les personnes ayant recommande la peine de mort ont enregistre des scores relativement plus eleves dans une mesure de l'esprit de vengeance.

Although the Parliament of Canada abolished the death penalty as a sentencing option in 1976 (Amnesty International, 1987), a majority of Canadians (approximately 65 - 75%) have indicated that they would support a return of the death penalty (Reid, 1987). Furthermore, calls for the the reintroduction of the death penalty by politicians and others occur frequently. As a result of the public's apparent support for capital punishment, and the possibility of its return, it is important to continue studying factors that influence people's attitudes regarding the death penalty.

People have used a number of arguments to support their position regarding the death penalty (see Baum, 1985; Ellsworth & Ross, 1983; Ogloff, 1987). Among the arguments employed have been deterrence, cost, retribution, incapacitation, rehabilitation and mistake (Baum, 1985; Ogloff, 1987). It has been suggested, though, that a person's position on the issue of capital punishment is not determined by a rationale evaluation of the arguments for and against the death penalty, but is an emotionally based, moral opinion, that may be based on vengeance (Ellsworth & Ross, 1983). The present study was designed to investigate arguments which may be effective in persuading people to recommend a sentence of life imprisonment or one of death.

The Death Penalty in the United States

As there currently is no provision for capital punishment in Canada, the substance and procedure that is used in some of the United States to impose the death penalty will be employed in this study. In 1972, the United States Supreme Court ruled that capital punishment, as it was then being administered, was being applied in an arbitrary and capricious manner which constituted cruel and unusual punishment (Furman v Georgia, 1972). In its decision, the Court noted that the death penalty statutes were vague and ambiguous, providing little guidance to juries in deciding whether to apply the death penalty.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Capital Punishment: Arguments for Life and Death
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.