In society today there are many unavoidable issues that can change the way life is lived. One that comes to mine is crime, and with crime has to come some type of punishment. Generally there are three purposes distinguished for punishment: deterrence, retribution, and rehabilitation. In the case of capital punishment only the first two apply. There has been extensive research into the issue of weather capital punishment served a deterrent function (Neapolitan 195). Thus, there has been a growing interest in capital punishment. Research. There are two different views a person can have on this they can be for or against capital punishment.
Then again, people have different views for different types of capital punishment. Research in this area is few and far between. However, the study that has been done provided a great deal of information about differences between supports and opponents of capital punishment with respect to demographic variables such as age, gender, and religion, and with respect to personality variable such as dogmatism and conservatism. In addition, it has been found that much of the variance in support of, and in opposition to, capital punishment can be accounted of by the variance in perception of capital punishment as an effective deterrent.
There has been very few empirical study of the difference between supporters and opponents whose positions are based on the perception of how well capital punishment serves the retributive function, even though there has been much speculation and theoretical argument about this issue. Neapolitan gave three functions of retributive punishment: Punishment also defined social boundaries, vindicates norms, and provides an outlet for the psychological tensions aroused by deviant acts (196).
Those who argue that capital punishment serves and is at least in part justified by its retributive function maintain that it serves these functions. They say it reaffirm and strengthens the value place on human life and that supports for capital punishment stems from respect for life. Many supporters also clain that capital punishment generally reinforce and vindicates some against interpersonal violence at other levels, and thus supports stems from opposition to violence and respect for the law.
Finally, many supporters argued that capital punishment provides an outlet for the anger of people who have sympathy for the victims of murder (Neapolitan 196). Opponents of capital punishment often argue that capital punishment functions in ways opposite to those sustained by supporters. They maintain that capital punishment lessens the value placed on human life and that opposition stems from respect for human life (Neapolitan 200).
Many opponents also argue that by modeling and legally sanctioning violence capital punishment encourages violence and that opposition stems from opposition to violence. Opponents also maintain that opposition to capital punishment does not represent to encourage disrespect for the law, because genuine respect for the law is based not on fear of punishment but on internalized norms and values. Finally, opponents maintain that they have sympathy for victims of murder and are angered by murder, but that the violent expression of anger is not a necessary or appropriate response (Neapolitan 207).
In the winter of 1981 Jerry Neapolitan published a one of a kind article titled Support For Opposition To Capital Punishment. To investigate the issue of capital punishment Neapolitan utilized a sample of college students divided into those who (1) oppose capital punishment (2) support capital Punishment only if it deters murder, and (3) would support it even if it did not deter murder. A questionnaire was administered to 366 students enrolled in eight sections of Introductory Sociology at a university in the middle Tennessee during the winter of 1980.
All students in attendance the day the questionnaire were handed out completed them. Since this course is required for all students, all majors were represented in the sample. Obviously, this is not a representative sample; this study was not interested in demographic differences between supporters and opponents but in social-psychological differences (Neapolitan 210). College students have been used as subjects in many social-psychological studies that have made important scientific contributions.
Furthermore, when arguments concerning capital punishment revolve around its impact on social boundaries, values, and shared norms, there is an implied assumption that similar punishment reaction have similar determinants. This study assumes that the variation in values and norms fot people having the same punishment reactions is similar throughout a society (Neapolitan 211). Different samples would most probably yield different results regarding the percentages who opposed and supported capital punishment, but the distribution of norms and values within each group should not substantially.
Respect for human life was in part measured by responses to the following Question: ‘Assuming no one would know and you would not be punished, what is the least amount of money you would take to pull a switch and kill an innocent stranger in a black box. This question is similar to the one used by Cameron (1976), in which he found that 45% of people who had deliberately killed or attempted to kill in the past would kill for money, whereas 25% of those people who had not deliberately killed or attempted to kill in the past would kill for money.
Subject who filled in any amount of money were regarded as not placing a high value on human life, whereas those who said there was no amount of money for which they would kill were regarded as placing a high value on human life. Subjects were provided a five point scale, ranging from strongly agree (with a value of 1 ) to strongly disagree (with a value of 5). Attitude items corresponded to the basic Hypothesized dimensions as follows.