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Attitudes toward capital punishment among Indiana legislators: Diminished support in light of alternative sentencing options *

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State legislators play a fundamental role in establishing public policy relating to the death penalty. Indeed, the Supreme Court has looked to state legislatures as a gauge of society's “evolving standards of decency.” Despite this central role, little is known about state legislators' beliefs regarding capital punishment and alternatives to the death penalty. This article, which follows the previous studies of state legislators' attitudes on crime and justice, presents the results of a survey of Indiana legislators on these issues. Among the key findings is that the majority of lawmakers, despite high general support for the death penalty, state a preference for life without parole coupled with work and restitution to victims' families. Indeed, only a relatively small minority of legislators express support for current death penalty policy. In addition to examining patterns of support for the death penalty and its alternatives, this study presents the results of analyses of personal, political, and constituent characteristics related to legislators' policy preferences.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Indiana University

Publication date: 01 December 1994

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