MA (Master of Arts)
Criminal Justice and Criminology
Date of Award
Committee Chair or Co-Chairs
Jennifer Pealer, Larry Miller
The study analyzed a convenience sample of published accounts of death penalty cases and life without parole cases. The objective of the study was to explore factors that influence the selection of cases for coverage in books, think tank reports (e.g., Heritage Foundation), and periodicals and factors related to coverage of homicides resulting in a death penalty sentence or a life without parole sentence (often termed “America’s other death penalty”).
Since this study was exploratory, hypotheses were not offered. However, prior research on the death penalty and on life without parole offered several clues. For example, since black offender/white victim homicides were more likely to result in a death penalty sentence, it was expected that such homicides would more likely to be covered. Since conservatives were more likely to favor the death penalty and liberals were likely to oppose it, it was expected that coverage would vary by how conservative or liberal the coverage source. For example, how the Heritage Foundation covered cases was expected to be different from coverage by Human Rights Watch.
In summary, my study revealed opposite results of previous research studies. The results of my study are probably skewed because of the small sample size. A bigger sample size would more than likely resulted in more accurate and reliable results.
Thesis - Open Access
Kirk, Lisa R., "A Content Analysis of Media Accounts of Death Penalty and Life Without Parole Cases" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 3184. https://dc.etsu.edu/etd/3184
Copyright by the authors.