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Influence of Gender, Age and Race on the Attitude of South Africans Towards the Death Penalty

NCJ Number
Acta Criminologica Volume: 20 Issue: 1 Dated: 2007 Pages: 35-54
C. Ambrosio; A. le Roux
Date Published
20 pages
This study examined people's attitudes toward the death penalty in South Africa.
The results show that both race and gender had a significant effect on attitudes toward the death penalty. Whites were more positive towards the death penalty than Blacks and coloured groups and White males' attitudes were more positive than females'. According to Masuka and Maepa (2004), levels of crime in South Africa have been increasing over the past two decades. It was thought that crime would decrease with the democratization of the country in 1994. Violent crime increased with attempted murder increased by 12 percent, common assault by 6 percent, and all robberies by 8 percent between April 2002 and March 2003. Murder was the only violent crime that decreased over both the short and long-term period. Decreases were also recorded for rape and serious assault by 5 percent and 1 percent respectively. The study confirms that most prevalent crimes are non-violent, but finds a sharp disparity between reality and the public’s perception of crime. The death penalty has been abolished in South Africa since 1995, however a public opinion poll undertaken by the Human Research Council (2004) of nearly 5,000 adults (aged 16 and older), indicated that 50 percent of South African adults strongly agreed and 25 percent agreed that capital punishment should be imposed on someone convicted of murder. Four denominations and 6 churches with 400 respondents in the Bloemfontein area (South Africa) were involved in the study. Shortcomings and recommendations of the study are discussed. Figures, tables, and bibliography