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Am J Orthopsychiatry. 1975 Jul;45(4):641-57.

A sociological perspective on public support for capital punishment.


Conceptualizations of public support for the death penalty that suggest that punitiveness, desire for vengenance, authoritarianism, polital conservatism, or other characteristics generally held in low esteem by many in the academic and research communities are the primary or most significant predictors of citizen responses to this issue are challenged. It is proposed instead that fear of crime, perceptions of increasing crime rates, a belief in the efficacy of punishment as a means of deterrence, and a willingness to employ punishment as a response to criminality have a far more important causal role than has previously been recognized.

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