2007 Student Research Conference:
20th Annual Student Research Conference

Social Science

Eye of the Beholder
Ben D. Coate* and Ryan S. Lewis
Dr. Paul Parker, Faculty Mentor

The “miscarriage of justice” is in the eye of the beholder. Some view the reversal of a death penalty conviction as a miscarriage in that it demonstrates a failure somewhere in the system. Conversely, others see this as an example of the system working, arguing that a wrongful conviction was discovered and corrected. This paper investigates these different perspectives through analysis of statements reported in newspapers in response to death penalty reversals. Death penalty reversals were identified for a 10 year period, 1997-2006, and news articles reporting the reversals were then read and coded. Content analysis of statements by prosecutors, defense attorneys, defendants, and victims’ families reveal different patterns regarding the legal system, the nature of the crime, and the character of the defendant.

Keywords: death penalty, capital case, prosecutor, media, exoneration, conviction, justice

Topic(s):Political Science

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 15-3
Location: VH 1412
Time: 8:45 am

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