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The present study employed the Templer Death Anxiety Scale and the Langer Mental Health Scale in examining death anxiety and mental health as a function of length of incarceration in 56 male prisoners, categorized according to homicidal, sexual, or nonviolent convictions. Nonoffenders (N 60), closely matched by age, race and socioeconomic background, served as a comparison group. While no significant death anxiety difference was found between offenders and nonoffenders with all subjects included, sexual offenders had significantly higher death anxiety scores than nonoffenders. All three offender groups had significantly more reported psychopathology than nonoffenders. Both death anxiety and extent of psychopathology were inversely related to length of incarceration. Findings are discussed in terms of current arguments regarding the personality structure of capital offenders, as well as the possible value of a death threat in deterring serious crime.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 1986

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