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Two Americas: Capital Punishment Views Among Canadian and U.S. College Students

NCJ Number
International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences Volume: 1 Issue: 2 Dated: July 2006 Pages: 1-37
Eric G. Lambert; David N. Baker; Kasey A Tucker
Date Published
July 2006
37 pages
This study explored the views of Canadian and United States college students toward capital punishment.
Three primary conclusions can be drawn from the results of this study. First, there was a significant difference between Canadian and United States respondents in their level of support for capital punishment. Second, there was a significant difference between Canadian and United States respondents in their views on the reasons to support or oppose capital punishment. Third, in general, the same predictors for level of support for the death penalty were found between the two groups. However, United States respondents were much more likely to support capital punishment. Additionally, Canadian respondents were significantly less likely to support the death penalty for the reasons of retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, and the instrumental perspective (i.e., law and order), while the United States respondents were less likely to oppose capital punishment for the reasons of morality, the brutalization effect, or the risk of executing an innocent person. Canada and the United States have often been compared because of their perceived notion that they are very similar. Further, the effectiveness and application of crime control policies in general, and the use of capital punishment in particular, have received a great deal of attention, garnering much debate. Rather than examining the death penalty views of people in a single nation, this study examined the views of college students in the United States and Canada, where Canada no longer executes individuals for criminal offenses and the United States still does. By looking at capital punishment from a cross-cultural perspective, a better understanding of both nations will be gained. Tables, references