Graduation Year

2005

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Criminology

Major Professor

John K. Cochran, Ph.D.

Keywords

Marshall hypothesis, Capital punishment, Public opinion, Knowledge gain, Death penalty

Abstract

Justice Thurgood Marshall proposed a three-pronged postulate in his dissent in1972 in the Furman v. Georgia (408 U.S. 238) Supreme Court case. The Americanpublic is generally uninformed when it comes to the death penalty, and given informationa great mass of citizens would be against it, unless their underlying beliefs were rootedin retribution (Furman v. Georgia, p. 363). These statements subsequently came to beknown as the Marshall Hypothesis, and were deemed testable by researchers.This study examines the influence on death penalty opinion as a consequence ofparticipating in a college class on the death penalty. Students in the class, who were either criminology majors or minors, were asked to take part in a questionnaire regardingtheir attitudes toward capital punishment at the beginning and at the end of the semester.Over the course of the class, students took part in a pre and post-test designed to measuretheir knowledge of the death penalty.

Share

COinS