The Enduring Racial Divide in Death Penalty Support

John K. Cochran, University of South Florida
Mitchell B. Chamlin, University of Cincinnati

One of the more enduring observations in the study of death penalty support with the UJnited States is the strong divide between whites and blacks. Whites showed significantly higher levels of support for capital punishment than blacks. This divide between whites and blacks appears in all none surveys, over time, and across a variety of methodological designs. Using data from four separate studies (two local surveys of veniremen and two national surveys -- the NORC-GSCC and the NCVS) we attempt to understand the basis for this divide. We examine the racial differences in socio-economic status, religion/religiosity, political ideology, positions on right-to-life and other social issues, fear of crime and victimization experience, experience with the criminal justice system, philosophies of punishment, and attribution styles. Our findings reveal that the effect of race/ethnicity on capital punishment support continues to hold while controlling for the effects of most of these "explanations."

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Updated 05/20/2006