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April 9, 2011

"Not In My Name: An Investigation of Victims’ Family Clemency Movements and Court"

The title of this post is the title of this interesting study spotlighted here by the Death Penalty Information Center.  Here is the abstract:

Purpose: The goals of this project are 1) to document the patterns of opposition to the death penalty promoted by victims’ families following the ascendency of the retribution and closure arguments in support of capital punishment, and 2) to assess the scope and primacy of newspaper coverage of death penalty cases with anti-capital punishment covictims.

Methods: Content analysis of nationwide newspaper reports on capital offense trials from 1992-2009 is used to assess patterns of victim resistance to the death penalty over time, the reasons given for support or resistance to the death penalty, and the scope and primacy of the newspaper coverage of the capital case.

Results: The analysis reveals a significant increase in co-victim clemency movements across the study time period.  Further, articles representing pro-death penalty covictims received both significantly higher primacy of media coverage in section and page number and word count than did their anti-death penalty counterparts.  Lastly, a qualitative assessment of covictims' statements reveals several reasons for co-victim support or resistance to the death penalty.

Conclusions: Co-victim opposition to the death penalty in reaction to the ascendancy of retribution and closure justifications for capital punishment must be integrated into ongoing debates about the death penalty.

April 9, 2011 at 10:33 AM | Permalink


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"'Not In My Name: An Investigation of Victims’ Family Clemency Movements and Court'"

It's not done in "their name." It's done in the name of the people collectively.

If a relative has been murdered, and you want something done "in your name," file a wrongful death suit.

Individual wrongs are redressed in tort. Wrongs against the state, such as the murder of its citizens, are addressed by sovereign power, which is not exercised in any individual's "name."

P.S. To the extent it matters, the DPIC (as usual) omits the central fact, that being that victim families support the DP to at least the same extent as the population at large, which is to say, overwhelmingly.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 9, 2011 11:35:25 AM

More repetitive left wing, propaganda drivel. Clutter.

But assume something for this hypothetical discussion. Assume, the families of murder victims are five times more likely to oppose the death penalty, in general and specifically for the murderer of their loved one.

Question. Were these family members worse off or better off after the murder of their loved one? Is there a conflict of interest in even these DP opponents?

Example. The murder victim is an ultra-violent, drunken and meth addicted unemployed man. Showers, maybe once a month. Never cuts his nails. Whether they need it or not, he porks his five year old daughter and one year old son every weekend, leaving disturbing injuries, untreated, to prevent reports to the authorities by medical personnel. The wife who has to work to pay the bills? Beaten on a regular basis. Now, this gem has not paid an illegal drug bill, and never will. The collection agency of the Mexican drug cartel has murdered him. To deter.

In the place of this family, I wouldn't just oppose the death penalty for the defendant. I would kiss his hand, and make a donation to his defense fund.

Why can't experts in the field control for simple conflict of interest?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 9, 2011 1:04:17 PM

Thank you for sharing,it is very helpful and I really like it!

Posted by: Big pony | Apr 11, 2011 6:07:52 AM

Yes, prosecutions are nominally in the name of the people, but many, many prosecutors (and judges) in practice rely both publicly and privately on the wishes of the victim's family in justifying charging, sentencing, and other decisions. This is true in capital and non-capital cases, as every practitioner knows. So the opinions or putative opinions of the victims are hardly irrelevant to the process as it actually works, even if a hornbook version of the law would imply as much.

Posted by: Anon | Apr 14, 2011 12:44:48 PM

In that example, it's paretty hard to oppose the dealth penalty. Think about how much money is saved (50k per year?)

Im not an attorney or student. But one of our children might be one any day! I have been in the health care business for 30 years. Plenty of problems in our neck of the woods as well!


Posted by: Ohio Health Insurance | Jul 27, 2011 3:33:26 PM

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