University of Arizona
Department of Psychology
PO Box 210068 Tucson, AZ 85721-0068

GARY E. R. SCHWARTZ, Ph.D. 
Professor of Psychology, Neurology, 
Psychiatry, and Medicine 
Director,  Human Energy Systems 
Laboratory
PHONE  (520) 621-5497 
FAX        (520) 621-9306 
Email :    GSCHWART@u.arizona.edu

   

DATE: 

TO: 
 

FROM: 
 

 
 

RE: 
 
 

January 26, 1998 
 
Chairman, Texas Board of Parole and Pardons  (cc: Gov. Bush) 
 

Gary E. R. Schwartz, Ph.D. Linda G. S. Russek, Ph.D., David K Weinstock, 
J.D., Lonnie Nelson, B.A., Brian A. Burke, B.Sc., Patti Harada,  Hal Movius, M.A., Shauna Shapiro, M.A., Ericha Scott, M.Ed.,  Linda Z.Y.  Song, M.D., Christopher Taylor, Ph.D. 
 

Public Opinion on Clemency 
 

Enclosed are the results of four studies that address the particularly difficult case facing Texas  - the Karla FayeTucker case.  These studies concern the public's views on both the fairness of the existing clemency process and the specific issue of clemency for Tucker.  We hope these findings will help you in your difficult deliberations. 
 

  • To assist students and the public at large as they consider these difficult clemency decisions, all this information is being placed on the Web, and we are beginning national data collection on these issues. The findings are also being distributed to the local and national press, as well as politicians, so that all of us can consider these issues with more knowledge and understanding.
  • As you know, the Tucker case is challenging the nation to reconsider its clemency procedures and goals.  Texas is being asked to become a possible role model for the nation.  It would appear to be a difficult and defining moment for Texas, and for the nation, but it also represents the chance to have an impact that many people will remember.
  • Although the large majority of people we surveyed were in favor of the death penalty, they also felt that currently procedures for considering clemency were insufficient to ensure a fair and just decision.  In particular, the findings suggest that in order for a Clemency Board decision to be viewed as fair and just, the Board must (1) have guidelines for clemency, (2) meet as a group to make a decision, (3) take into account evidence of possible rehabilitation, and (4) explain the reasons for their decisions.    While some of the findings vary as a function of belief in the death penalty, most do not.  The data suggest that under current provisions, a decision to execute Tucker would bring close scrutiny of the entire clemency process.
  • If we can be of any assistance, do not hesitate to call.  With best wishes.

Final Working Draft 3.4 (January 26, 1998) 

    Clemency Decisions and the Tucker Case:
A Preliminary Report on Public Opinion and Concerns

Gary E. R. Schwartz, Ph.D. Linda G. S. Russek, Ph.D. David K Weinstock, J.D., Hal Movius, M.A. Lonnie Nelson, B.A., Brian A. Burke, B.Sc., Patti Harada, Shauna Shapiro, M.A., Ericha Scott, M.Ed. Linda Z. Y. Song, M.D., Christopher Taylor, Ph.D.  

The University of Arizona


SUMMARY

When Clemency Boards and Governors are called upon to make life and death decisions concerning persons on death row, what guidelines should they use?   Should they halt executions if there is new compelling evidence of rehabilitation?   Should they allow for a new hearing if there is compelling evidence that an individual may be innocent?  The present research first addresses the question of clemency (e.g. converting the sentence of death to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole) when there is compelling behavioral and emotional evidence of rehabilitation.  Then it reports findings concerning the question of considering new evidence of possible innocence.  Finally, suggestions are made for revising the current procedures used by Clemency Boards.

 

I. Introduction

 Each and every time society chooses to employ the death penalty - the ultimate punishment - it must make a profound legal, moral, and spiritual decision.   The death penalty imposes a final punishment, one that cannot be revoked.   Therefore, if execution is to be used at all, it must be used wisely and judiciously.  When we make mistakes with the death penalty, we make a terrible and irrevocable mistake.

 The state of Texas faces the imminent possibility of executing a person on February 3 rd who, although clearly guilty of the crime, shows strong evidence over more than decade of having been thoroughly rehabilitated.   Though the media has taken an interest in this case partly because the person on death row is a woman (Karla Faye Tucker), her situation raises the deeper moral question:  In those rare cases when someone has made documented long-term life-affirming changes, is it in the best interest of society to execute her or him?

Secondarily, our data address the issue of the Board's current review process more generally.  The data suggest that unless procedural changes are made, decisions regarding clemency and appeal will continue to be vulnerable to public disapproval.

 The research described below reflects the data collected in four studies.  Our team learned of the Tucker case through CNN coverage on January 14th and 15th, 1998.   Meetings were held on January 16th and 17th; the questionnaire was designed on January 18th; administered to an initial sample of University of Arizona students on January 20th (January 19th honored Dr. Martin Luther King); and the data were analyzed (and the first draft of this  report was written) on January 21st.  The next phase of data collection and analyses occurred on January 22nd and 23rd.  The second draft of this report was written on January 24th. National sampling was expected to begin around January 27th.

 The University of Arizona Clemency Guidelines Questionnaire is attached as Appendix A.   Because time was so limited, a scholarly review of the literature on clemency and the death penalty could not be prepared here (see Weinstock and Schwartz, in press; Taylor, Schwartz, Russek and Sechrest, in press; Schwartz, Russek, Shapiro, and Harada, in press).   We apologize to the many scholars of the death penalty for not being able to cite their seminal work in this brief report.

II. Method: Four Separate Studies

 Questionnaires were initially filled out by undergraduates taking a psychology class taught by Schwartz and Russek (Study 1, n=86).  As part of the class project, students then administered the questionnaires to fellow students and friends to learn how different people approach the questions (Study 2, n=126).  In addition, one student adminstered the questionnaires to undergraduates taking a different psychology class (Study 3, n=101) as well as law students taking a class in Criminal Law (Study 4, n=35).   The findings from the four studies were then shared with the initial psychology class and the teachers in the other classes for discussion with their students.

 The total sample (n=348) was 32% male and 68% female.  Mean age of the sample was 23.3 years (range 17 to 67).   More than half (57%) of the sample indicated that they believed in the use of the death penalty,  25 % indicated they were undecided, and 18% indicated they did not agree with the death penalty.   The samples included students from across the country and foreign countries as well.  Percent values are rounded to the nearest whole percent.   Summary statistics for the four separate samples are shown in Table 1.

  

Table 1 - General Sample Statistics
 
Class 1  Friends/Others  Class 2  Law Students 
Number 86  126  101  35 
Age 22.3 (18-47)  24.1 (17-67)  21.0 (18-42)  28.8 (23-43) 
Sex % Male/Female 22/78  42/58  27/73  31/69 
Death Penalty % Yes/Und/No 50/27/23  58/25/17  64/27/9  50/15/35 

  

III. Results: Rehabilitation Questions

 Table 2 displays the percent yes answers for the eight rehabilitation questions for the total sample and the three death penalty groups (see next page).

In response to the question "if new evidence indicates there is a serious possibility that a person on death row is behaviorally and emotionally transformed (has become a safe and compassionate person)," 61% indicated that this person should be given a second sentencing hearing for possible commutation of the sentence to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole.  A majority of subjects indicated that this person should NOT be executed (55% no, 45% yes). The overall pattern of findings for the total sample was replicated in each of the four studies (see Appendix B).   The findings for males and females were virtually identical.

Our data suggest that belief in the death penalty influences opinions on clemency.  Whereas 95% of people who disagreed with the death penalty indicated such a person should NOT be executed (5% said yes), this value decreased to 74% among the undecided (26% said yes), and dropped to 33% among people who are in favor of the death penalty (67% said yes).  In other words, only 1/3rd of people sampled in our studies who believe in the death penalty favor clemency for people who have been rehabilitated.  A similar pattern is found for a second sentencing hearing.    

TABLE 2 - Rehabilitation Questions 
Percent YES calculations 
"If new evidence indicates there is a serious possibility that a person on death row is behaviorally and emotionally transformed (has become a safe and compassionate person)": 

QUESTIONS 

ALL PERSONS SAMPLED  DEATH PENALTY OPINION 
In Favor  Undecided  Opposed 
Should this person be executed? 45%  67%  26%  5% 
Should this person be given a second sentencing hearing? 61%  46%  76%  92% 
Is Clemency Board showing moral strength if they halt the execution? 67%  55%  81%  92% 
Is the Governor showing moral strength if she or he halts the execution? 68%  54%  84%  92% 
Should Clemency Board base its decision on political pressure? 8%  8%  8%  6% 
Should the Governor base her or his decision on political pressure? 7%  7%  7%  8% 
Should the Clemency Board be held accountable if they execute this person? 42%  27%  49%  75% 
Should the Governor be held accountable if she or he executes this person? 42%  27%  49%  75% 

  

 Clearly, conflicting messages about clemency for rehabilitation are being given to Clemency Boards and Governors.  For example, whereas 75% of people who were against the death penalty indicated they would hold Clemency Boards and Governors responsible for executing rehabilitated persons, only 27% of people who indicated they were in favor of the death penalty would hold Clemency Boards and Governors responsible for executing rehabilitated persons.

The one opinion shared by all three groups (92% and 93%) is that political pressure should not be considered by Clemency Boards and Governors in making life and death decisions of this sort (only 8% and 7% said political pressure should be considered).

IV. Results: Innocence Questions

Table 3 displays the percent yes answers for the eight innocence questions for the total sample, and separately for the three death penalty groups - in favor of the death penalty (yes), undecided about the death penalty (und), and against the death penalty (no) (see next page).   The general pattern of findings for the total sample was replicated in each of the four studies (see Appendix C).   The findings for males and females were virtually identical.     

TABLE 3 - Innocence Questions 
Percent YES calculations 
"If new evidence indicates there is a serious possibility that a person on death row is innocent" 
QUESTIONS  ALL PERSONS SAMPLED  DEATH PENALTY OPINION 
In Favor  Undecided  Opposed 
Should this person be executed? 3%  4%  1%  3% 
Should this person be given a second trial or  hearing? 98%  97%  99%  100% 
Is Clemency Board showing moral strength if they halt the execution? 91%  90%  96%  94% 
Is the Governor showing moral strength if she or he halts the execution? 91%  88%  98%  93% 
Should Clemency Board base its decision on political pressure? 2%  2%  1%  3% 
Should the Governor base her or his decision on political pressure? 2%  2%  1%  3% 
Should the Clemency Board be held accountable if they execute this person? 80%  76%  82%  87% 
Should the Governor be held accountable if he or she executes this person? 80%  74%  80%  88% 

  

Replicating our previous research (e.g., Weinstock and Schwartz, in press) in response to the question "if new evidence indicates there is a serious possibility that a person on death row is innocent," subjects overwhelmingly indicate that the person should NOT be executed (97% say no, 3% say yes).    Moreover, 98% of the sample indicated that this person should be given a second trial or hearing (presumably before execution for the few subjects who recommended execution).  Note that these conclusions are voiced not only by people who are against the death penalty or are undecided about the death penalty, but by people who agree with the death penalty as well.

The instructions to Clemency Boards and Governors are also remarkably strong. Clemency Boards and Governors are viewed as showing moral strength (91% and 91%) if they halt the execution and pursue a second trial or hearing, less than 2% indicate that Clemency Boards and Governors should make this decision based on political pressure, and 80% believe that Clemency Boards and Governors should be held accountable if they knowingly allow a potentially innocent person to be executed in the name of justice.

 This new set of four studies replicates the previous set of three studies reported by Weinstock and Schwartz (1998, in press).   All seven studies comprising more than 2,000 subjects reflect a seemingly universal public belief:  If there is a serious possibility that someone on death row is innocent, it is irresponsible for any state to allow such a person to be executed.

Clearly, as mentioned earlier, the public is more divided on the question of clemency for the rehabilitated than for the potentially innocent.  Why should this be so?  To explore this, we collected data regarding people's beliefs about themselves, others, and the capacity for meaningful change.  These data are summarized in Appendix D.
 

V. General Opinions about the Clemency Process

 What does the public think about how Clemency Board decisions regarding sentence commutation and second hearings should be made?   Table 4 briefly summarizes the findings.   The general pattern of findings for the total sample were replicated in each of the four samples (see Appendix E).  The findings were virtually identical for males and females.

The findings are relatively straightforward.   Only 23% of the sample accepts a clemency decision made where no guidelines are provided.   A full 98% of the sample indicates that Clemency Boards should consider new evidence about innocence.  The majority of the sample indicates that evidence of rehabilitation should be considered (60% for the total sample).  Based on the findings mentioned above, it is not surprising that this figure is much higher for people undecided or opposed to the death penalty (79% and 92%) compared with people who are in favor of the death penalty (40%).   Again, even among people who are in favor of the death penalty, there is a strong difference of opinion on the question of rehabilitation.

  

TABLE 4 - Clemency Guideline Questions 
Percent YES calculations
QUESTIONS  ALL PERSONS SAMPLED  DEATH PENALTY OPINION 
In Favor  Undecided  Opposed 
If Clemency Boards have no guidelines, can they make just and fair decisions? 23%  24%  20%  26% 
Should Clemency Boards take new evidence of innocence into account? 98%  97%  100%  98% 
Should Clemency Boards take new evidence of rehabilitation into account? 60%  42%  79%  92% 
Should Clemency Board members be required to explain their decisions? 89%  84%  94%  95% 
Should National Guidelines be created to help Clemency Boards make wise decisions? 85%  80%  90%  92% 
Should Clemency Boards be required to meet as a group to make life and death decisions? 91%  88%  98%  94% 
Should the same standards be used for men and women? 98%  99%  97%  95% 

  

VI. Summary and Implications

 The sample is strongly in favor of Clemency Boards meeting as a group to make clemency decisions (91%), providing explanations for their decisions (89%), the creation of national guidelines to help Clemency Boards to make consistent decisions (85%), and the maintenance of same-sex standards for men and women (98%).

 At present, various states, including the Texas Board of Parole and Pardons, do not follow these procedures.  The Texas Board (which will decide the Tucker case):

  1. have no stated guidelines for clemency,
  2. need not meet as a group,
  3. need not seriously consider new evidence of innocence or rehabilitation,
  4. are not required to explain their decisions, and
  5. have not (statistically) employed same sex standards.

 Our data strongly suggest that the Board's decisions, including most importantly and immediately in the case of Karla Faye Tucker, are likely to be vulnerable to intense public scrutiny and disfavor if steps are not taken to improve the deliberation procedure that the Board currently follows.  At a minimum, it would seem that for the Tucker case the Board should meet as a group, demonstrate that is has seriously considered evidence of rehabilitation, and explain the criteria it used in reaching a decision. Without such steps, any decision is likely to be viewed as procedurally unfair and therefore met with hostility.

Perhaps of equal importance, these data suggest that the public desires reform with respect to the entire clemency process.  The current process gives little in the way of guidance to Board members who are faced with perhaps the most difficult decision one human can make about another.  Our studies suggest that the clemency process can be reformed so that Board members are not left to fend off the criticism that follows a procedurally unsound decision-making process.

We sincerely hope the above findings are of assistance to the Board in the days and months ahead.

 

VII. Concluding Thoughts -

Because of severe time limitations, it is not possible to develop the potential implications of these findings for the death penalty debate (e.g., the presumed deterrence value of the death penalty; the power of the rehabilitated to serve as compassionate rehabilitators in prison; etc.).   Our focus has been on the challenge of defining the concept of clemency and on improving the process of making clemency decisions.

Should the rehabilitated person be spared the death penalty?    The preliminary findings suggest that this question is complicated in minds of the public.  If sentencing for the death penalty includes the question of danger to society and lack of remorse (and responsibility), then perhaps when a person becomes thoroughly rehabilitated, the criteria for the sentencing of death is no longer met.   It seems highly probable that if Tucker were facing a jury today,  she would no longer be found to be a danger to society, and she would be found to be remorseful and accepting of full responsibility.

In any case, what is clear from our studies is that rehabilitation and reform of the clemency system is essential if public confidence is to be maintained in future clemency decisions.

"With the stakes of our choices so high, life and death, it would seem prudent to make every effort to choose correctly.  That takes knowledge, which fortunately is available.  We have only to seek it."                                                                  Gerald L. Schroeder, Ph.D. (1998)

 


Note:  A longer report descibing the implications of these findings for the philosophy of clemency is available from the authors on request.

References

Schwartz, G.E.R., Russek, L.G.S., Shapiro, S., & Harada, P. (1998 in press).  Compassionate Openness as a Meta-World Hypothesis: A New Way of Seeing Mind and Medicine.  Advances: The Journal of Mind-Body Health.
 
Taylor, C., Schwartz, G.E., Russek, L.G., & Sechrest, L. (1998 in press).  A Matter of Life or Death: Organizational change in the real world.  Journal of Educational Management.

Weinstock, W.K., & Schwartz, G.E. (1998 in press).  Executing the Innocent:  Preventing the Ultimate Injustice.   Criminal Law Bulletin.

 

Quotes

Russek HI (1911-1990).   "Time is what a life is made of" (communicated to his family).

Schroeder GL (1998).  "With the stakes of our choices so high…."  From a new book on the convergence of scientific and biblical wisdom,  The Science of God.   New York: The Free Press. (page 175).   Schroeder, a physicist,  has also published The Big Bang and Genesis.   His quote seems appropriate here, given the convergence of science and religion as they address the question of the pros and cons of the death penalty and the wisdom of executing the innocent, the
rehabilitated, and criminals in general.

 

Use in Education -

"The Love of Education Rules the World" (Phi Kappa Phi inscription on the wall of the main library at the University of Arizona)

The questionnaire serves as a powerful educational tool for stimulating academic discussion and self-examination about the complex relationships between justice, compassion, personal health, and societal health.   The questionnaire can be adopted for different age groups, and can be used by individuals to explore their own beliefs and feelings about the goals and procedures of clemency.   The questionnaire was designed primarily to be an educational exercise for students at the University of Arizona, and by extension, students in general.  If it had been designed primarily as a research instrument, it would have been designed somewhat differently.  The summary statistics, however, are scientifically meaningful.

 


  Appendix A:   University of Arizona Clemency Guidelines Questionnaire 1.2 Name___________________  Age _____   Sex _____   Date _________ HUMAN VALUES AND JUSTICE RESEARCH PROGRAM

 There are a few cases in the United States (out of thousands on death row) where new compelling evidence, never heard by a jury, indicates that these particular persons may be innocent.   The following research questions are not about the pros and cons of the death penalty; the questions are about the morality and allowing the execution of a person for whom there is serious possibility of innocence.    As you answer these questions, imagine what decision you would make if you were the Chairperson of a Clemency Board, who makes final recommendations to a Governor, or you were the Governor, who typically has the final responsibility to allow or not allow a potentially innocent person to be killed.  If new evidence indicates there is a serious possibility that a person on death row is innocent -

1. Should this person be executed?   Circle YES or NO

2. Should this person be given a second trial or hearing? Circle YES or NO

3. Do you believe that a Clemency Board is showing moral strength if the Board recommends to a Governor that this person be given a second trial or hearing (and therefore halts the execution at this time)?    Circle YES or NO

4. Do you believe that a Clemency Board should base its decision on political pressure rather than on the new evidence?    Circle YES or NO

5. Do you believe that a Governor is showing moral strength if she or he decides to give this person a second trial or hearing (and therefore halts the execution at this time)?  Circle YES or NO

6. Do you believe that a Governor should base her or his decision on political pressure rather than on the new evidence?    Circle YES or NO

7. Do you believe that a Clemency Board should be held accountable if they knowingly allow this person to be executed?   Circle YES or NO

8. Do you believe that a Governor should be held accountable if she or he knowingly decides to allow this person to be executed?    Circle YES or NO   HUMAN VALUES AND JUSTICE RESEARCH PROGRAM

 There are a few cases in the United States (out of thousands on death row) where new compelling evidence, never heard by a jury, indicates that these particular persons have become safe, caring, and compassionate individuals.  They experience deep remorse and sadness, and they accept full responsibility for their crime.  They no longer appear to be the same persons who committed the crime, and they have demonstrated through their actions over a long period of time clear evidence of giving back to society by counseling others that life-affirming change is possible. The following research questions are not about the pros and cons of the death penalty; the questions are about the morality of allowing the execution of a person for whom there is serious possibility that the person has been behaviorally and emotionally transformed (rehabilitated and /or redeemed).   As you answer these questions, imagine what decision you would make if you were the Chairperson of a Clemency Board, who makes final recommendations to a Governor, or you were the Governor, who typically has the final responsibility to allow or not allow a loving and giving person to be killed (or to receive a sentence of life imprisonment with no possibility of parole).

 

If new evidence indicates there is a serious possibility that a person on death row is behaviorally and emotionally transformed (has become a safe and compassionate person)

1. Should this person be executed?   Circle YES or NO

2. Should this person be given a second sentencing hearing (to determine if the person merits life imprisonment with no possibility of parole instead of execution)? Circle YES or NO

3. Do you believe that a Clemency Board is showing moral strength if the Board recommends to a Governor that this person be given a second sentencing hearing (and therefore halts the execution at this time)?    Circle YES or NO

4. Do you believe that a Clemency Board should base its decision on political pressure rather than on the new evidence?    Circle YES or NO

5. Do you believe that a Governor is showing moral strength if she or he decides to give this person a second sentencing hearing (and therefore halts the execution at this time)? Circle YES or NO

6. Do you believe that a Governor should base her or his decision on political pressure rather than on the new evidence?    Circle YES or NO

7. Do you believe that a Clemency Board should be held accountable if they knowingly allow this person to be executed?   Circle YES or NO

8. Do you believe that a Governor should be held accountable if she or he knowingly decides to allow this person to be executed?    Circle YES or NO

 

Background and General Information and Beliefs

1.  Home town / city   ________________

2.  Home state  __________________

3.   Political Affiliation  (circle one - Republican, Democrat, None, or fill in __________)

4.   Race (circle one - White, African-American, Native-American, Hispanic, Asian, or  fill in __________).

5. Religion (circle one - Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, None, or fill in ___________ )

6. Major ____________    and / or Profession / Job ______________.

7. Do you believe in the death penalty  (circle one - YES, NO, UNDECIDED)

8. Would you describe your mother as just and fair?  Circle one  Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, Usually, Always

9.   Would you describe your father as just and fair?  Circle one  Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, Usually, Always

10. Do you consider the justice system to be just and fair?  Circle one  Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, Usually, Always

11. Do you consider yourself to be just and fair?  Circle one  Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, Usually, Always

12. Would you describe your mother as compassionate?  Circle one  Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, Usually, Always

13. Would you describe your father as compassionate?  Circle one  Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, Usually, Always

14.  Do you consider the justice system to be compassionate?  Circle one  Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, Usually, Always

15. Do you consider yourself to be compassionate?  Circle one  Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, Usually, Always

16.  Do you believe that Clemency Boards can make just and fair decisions about  executions if they have no guidelines (members can use whatever guidelines or
standards they wish?)   Circle one - YES or NO

17.  Do you believe that Clemency Boards should take into account new evidence indicating that the person may be innocent of the crime, in making a decision about execution?   Circle one - YES or NO

18.  Do you believe that Clemency Boards should take into account new evidence indicating that the person may be behaviorally and emotionally transformed (to a safe and compassionate person), in making a decision about execution?   Circle one - YES or NO
 
19. Do you believe that members of Clemency Boards, in making a life and death  decision applying the death penalty, should be required to explain the reason
 for their decision (to increase the chance of knowing whether any guidelines are being taken into account)?   Circle one - YES or NO

20.  Do you believe that National Guidelines should be created (through a commission representing the public, legislators, and legal experts) to help Clemency Boards make wise decisions reflecting justice and compassion?  Circle one - YES or NO

21.  Do you believe that members of Clemency Boards, in making a life and death decision applying the death penalty, should be required to meet as a group like a jury and receive information and testimony in an open hearing about the possibility of clemency?  Circle one - YES or NO

22. How would you rate your overall physical health?   Circle one.  Very Poor, Poor, Fair, Okay, Good, Very Good, Excellent

23.  Do you believe that people can make meaningful and long lasting changes in  their behavior and emotions (i.e. they can grow and change)?   Circle one.
 YES,  SOMETIMES,  RARELY,  NO

24. Do you believe that you can make meaningful and long lasting changes in  your behavior and emotions (i.e. you can grow and change)?   Circle one.
 YES,  SOMETIMES,  RARELY,  NO

25.  How often do you think juries makes mistakes in applying the  death penalty?   Circle one.  Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, Usually, Always

26.  How often do you think judges and courts make mistakes in applying the  death penalty?   Circle one.  Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, Usually, Always

27.  How often do you think Clemency Boards make mistakes in applying the  death penalty?  Circle one. Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, Usually, Always

28.  How often do you think Governors make mistakes in applying the death penalty?  Circle one.  Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, Usually, Always

29. List below specific criteria and guidelines you would use if you were Chairperson of a Clemency Board and had the responsibility to evaluate whether someone scheduled to be executed should be given a second trial or hearing?
 A._________________________________________________________________
 B. _________________________________________________________________
 C. _________________________________________________________________
 D. _________________________________________________________________
 E. _________________________________________________________________
 F. _________________________________________________________________

30. Do you believe the same standards should be applied to women and men? Circle one - YES or NO

  

APPENDIX B - Rehabilitation Questions  Percent YES calculations 

QUESTIONS 

SAMPLES 
1  2  3  4 
Should this person be executed? 31%  50%  52%  45% 
Should this person be given a second sentencing hearing? 73%  62%  52%  58% 
Is Clemency Board showing moral strength if they halt the execution?  79%  66%  64%  48% 
Is the Governor showing moral strength if she or he halts the execution? 81%  67%  65%  48% 
Should the Clemency Board base its decision on political pressure?  6%  5%  10%  12% 
Should the Governor base her or his decision on political pressure?  5%  5%  13%  6% 
Should the Clemency Board be held accountable if they execute this person? 47%  51%  27%  38% 
Should the Governor be held accountable if she or he executes this person? 48%  50%  28%  38% 

     

APPENDIX C - Innocence Questions 
Percent YES calculations

QUESTIONS 

SAMPLES 
1  2  3  4 
Should this person be executed? 5%  3%  4%  0% 
Should this person be given a second trial or hearing?  100%  98%  97%  97% 
Is Clemency Board showing moral strength if they halt the execution? 93%  90%  95%  79% 
Is the Governor showing moral strength if she or he halts the execution?  92%  90%  97%  79% 
Should the Clemency Board base its decision on political pressure?  2%  2%  1%  3% 
Should the Governor base her or his decision on political pressure?  1%  2%  1%  3% 
Should the Clemency Board be held accountable if they execute this person? 83%  83%  75%  74% 
Should the Governor be held accountable if she or he executes this person?  81%  80%  74%  74% 

    APPENDIX D:  Psychological Explanations for the Public Opinion Results

 Clearly, as we mentioned earlier, the public is more divided on the question of clemency for the rehabilitated than for the potentially innocent.  Why should this be so?  To explore this, we asked several quetions regarding people's beliefs about themselves, others, and the capacity for meaningful change.  Two questions asked whether the subjects believed that other people as well as themselves could make "meaningful and long-lasting changes in their behavior and emotions (i.e., they can grow and change)?"   Subjects could choose yes (scored 3), sometimes (scored 2), rarely (scored 1), and no (scored 0).    Figure 1 displays the mean belief in the possibility of personal change (in others, the dashed line, and self, the solid line) for the three groups for the total sample.   This pattern was independently replicated in all four groups.

Figure 1

It can be seen that both lines increase from agree with the death penalty to disagree with the death penalty.  Not only do people who believe in the death penalty hold the least belief in the possibility of personal change for others, they hold a similarly decreased belief in the possibility of change for themselves (analyses of variance, p<.000001).   In general, people hold stronger beliefs in the possibility of change for themselves than for others (p<.0000001).

 If decreased belief in the possibility of personal change is related to the belief in the death penalty, which in turn influences people's values about executing rehabilitated persons, what factors are associated with decreased belief in the possibility of personal change?   Time and space do not allow a detailed discussion here.   One correlation discovered in the data that is worth consideration is the finding that people who perceive themselves to have less ability to make personal changes also rate themselves as being significantly less compassionate (p <.008).   Moreover, people who report being in favor of the death penalty rate themselves as being significantly less compassionate (p<.02).  Figure 2 displays the mean scores of perception of personal compassion as a function of belief in the death penalty.   It can be seen that people who are in favor of the death penalty describe themselves as being the least compassionate.

Figure 2

This finding may be important because it is generally believed that heinous crimes are more likely to be committed by individuals who are low in compassion.  It is conceivable that individuals low in compassion, who are more likely to believe that personal change is less possible, are more likely to believe that rehabilitated individuals should be executed.  In other words, an increased capacity to kill by criminals and to execute by the general public may be linked to a decrease in compassion among both groups.

This conclusion is further supported by a relationship discovered between the decision to execute a potentially innocent person and one's perception of paternal justice and compassion.  In the total sample of 348 subjects, only 12 people (5 males and 7 females) reported that they believed a potentially innocent person should be executed.   It turned out that these particular individuals rated their fathers (not their mothers) as being significantly lower in justice and compassion compared to people who are opposed to executing the potentially innocent. (p <.01).   The means are displayed in Figure 3.

Figure 3

Execute the Potentially Innocent Graph

Not surprisingly, ratings of personal compassion are significantly correlated with ratings of paternal just and fairness (p<.001) and compassion (p<.0001).

These data suggest that belief in the capacity for change and the perception of compassion in oneself and in others may explain the difference between clemency for innocence and clemency for rehabilitation.

These preliminary observations must to be replicated and extended in future research before any firm conclusions can be drawn. 

APPENDIX E - Clemency Guideline Questions   Percent YES calculations  

QUESTIONS 

SAMPLES 
1  2  3  4 
If Clemency Boards have no guidelines, can they make just and fair decisions? 23%  22%  24%  27% 
Should Clemency Boards take new evidence of innocence into account? 98%  98%  99%  100% 
Should Clemency Boards take new evidence of rehabilitation into account?  74%  60%  50%  57% 
Should Clemency Board members be required to explain their decisions? 88%  88%  89%  94% 
Should National Guidelines be created to help Clemency Boards make wise decisions? 89%  78%  89%  87% 
Should Clemency Boards be required to meet as a group to make life and death decisions?  91%  92%  91%  93% 
Should the same standards be used for men and women? 99%  95%  100%  100% 

   Click to go to PART II of this CLEMENCY Study

CLICK HERE for the study of the relation of COMPASSION to Clemency