Date of Award

8-1-2011

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Criminology and Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Giblin, Dr. Matthew

Abstract

Although clemency is often an offender's final prospect to avoid execution within the death penalty context, prior research concerning clemency decisions remains limited by the fact that it is often atheoretical and researchers have used data more than a decade old. This study specifically placed clemency decisions within a focal concerns framework and examined death row inmates who were either executed or granted clemency between 1984 and 2008. This study used logistic regression as its primary modeling technique to examine whether measures of focal concerns theory were predictive of clemency decisions. While the current measures for offender blameworthiness and protection of the community were not found to influence clemency decisions, practical constraints and consequences measured by political factors and regional location along with offender characteristics were found to predict such decisions. Female offenders, non-white offenders, and offenders with lower educational levels were most likely to be granted clemency. Whereas lame duck governors were more likely to grant clemency, governors in southern states were less likely to grant clemency. The odds of clemency were reduced with each year an offender served.

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