Behavioral Sciences & the Law

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Volume 5 Issue 4 (Autumn (Fall) 1987), Pages fmi-fmi, 381-494

Boundary maintenance and capital punishment: A sociological perspective (pages 423-432)


Capital punishment represents a sociolegal dilemma in the United States. While there is seemingly popular support in the country for the death penalty, a clear discriminatory bias exists challenging the foundation of American justice–that of fair treatment before the law. A review of sentencing practices and executions indicates major regional (south/non‐south) differences regarding the proportion of executions in terms of both numbers and race. This social process is explained in terms of societal reaction/boundary maintenance model. One means of avoiding these regional biases and to ensure a more objective adjudication process would be to make capital crimes a federal offense.

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