Strong public support for capital punishment is arguably the number one reason why the death penalty continues to be used as a form of correctional policy in the U.S. criminal justice system. Therefore, it is fundamental that the measure of death penalty opinion be heavily scrutinized. Utilizing a methodological approach not typically employed in this area, the current study conducted six focus groups to gain a better understanding of the complexity of these opinions. During the focus groups, participants were asked to state their general beliefs concerning the death penalty, respond to scenarios, and respond to research findings regarding the death penalty (i.e., costs, deterrence, wrongful convictions, race, etc.). The findings suggest that participants' views regarding the death penalty are more multifaceted than previously believed. This study further suggests that current methods used to measure public support of the death penalty fail to capture the complexity of sentiment on this issue.


Death Penalty, Public Opinion, and Focus Groups

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