According to the U.S. Department of Justice, capital punishment is the process of sentencing convicted offenders to death for the most severe crimes and carrying out the crimes. In 2017, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) obtained data on prisoners under sentence of death from the Department of Corrections in each jurisdiction that authorized the death penalty (Smith, 2012) (Capital Punishment).
Consequently, the death penalty status emerged from the Attorney General’s office in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government. In 2018, the BJS recorded a gradual decrease in the number of prisoners under the death sentence, most notably in Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Alabama, Florida, California, and Nevada (Snell, 2012). Across the U.S., Georgia accounted for the highest percentage of executions, notably, the lowest recorded over the last 25 years. Capital punishment is more expensive than life with parole, which costs Georgia more than $3 million.
Is the death penalty cost-effective?
H1: The effects of deterrent measures and socioeconomic factors on murder rates are independent of the death penalty status.
H2: Most people in the U.S. support the death penalty because they are not knowledgeable of the debatable issues, such as the expenses involved.
H3: An informed American public would not support the death penalty.
Survey Research and Data Collection (Capital Punishment)
Survey research is one of the most common ways of collecting data. It is a descriptive method for collecting research data from subjects who respond to questions provided in questionnaires. In this research design, a researcher compiles a set of questions presented to a target population or group. The questions created can vary depending on the topic under study. This is because every study requires respondents to rate their beliefs, opinions, and attitudes. Mostly, survey research is carried out through computer, telephone, mail, or interviews.
Typically, surveys are made up of open- and closed-ended questions. For open-ended questions, researchers ask respondents to provide answers to specific questions. On the other hand, closed-ended questions ask respondents to select an answer from a list of choices provided in the questionnaire. It is imperative to note that surveys provide several attractive features that make it the most suitable research method. Besides, they are inexpensive, efficient, generalizable, and versatile. However, surveys can be limited because of measurement, sampling, and overall survey design. When creating surveys, researchers should be practical such that the components included in the survey are precise and address significant concerns.
In my research proposal, subjects completed similar surveys seeking to obtain three kinds of information. In section one, the questionnaire contains items that measure respondent’s opinions on the death penalty. Four items inquired on abstract support for the death penalty, but only three were utilized for analysis, while 16 items conducted an inquiry on support for the death penalty under specific circumstances. In section two, the survey comprises items with three response categories: true, false, and do not know. The items are combined to form an index. Lastly, the third section focuses on the demographic details of subjects (Capital Punishment).
Data Collection Survey Method (Focus Group Interviews)
Criminal justice serves to deliver justice in our societies. Criminal justice research describes variables based on exploration, description, and application. Each study serves different purposes, hence the need to independently analyze research studies: each study has different implications on other design aspects (Peersman, 2014). The primary reason for conducting research is to establish the root cause of a problem by conducting in-depth data collection and analysis. Such problems are better addressed from an innovative approach to corrections, court management, and policing by comparing them against other cities or states.
Focus group interviews provide a more comprehensive approach than the conventional survey method. The conventional survey method entailed respondents interviewed from their homes. Nevertheless, the inception of focus group interviews in social sciences after 40 years of consumer research has depicted positive outcomes, especially in criminal justice (Sim, & Waterfield, 2019). Typically, focus group interviews can run for thirty minutes to two hours, depending on the amount of data collected and the topic under study. This methodology is made of an interviewer who is the researcher and a small, homogenous group of six to eight people who are provided with a set of questions to respond to (Capital Punishment).
Focus group interviews exhibit several strengths that make it a viable option for data collection in criminal justice. First, a researcher can interview a group of individuals to demonstrate the profound efficiency of the methodology. Besides, respondents can act as checks for one another; hence the researcher remain assured of top-notch validity responses. Focus group interactions between participants and researchers depict the potential to focus on and address critical issues and concerns from a particular topic (Sim, & Waterfield, 2019). However, some concerns arise on the reliability and validity of responses from focus groups. consequently, with questions stemming from the ability of a researcher to select a good sample, facilitating, and record responses.
Another concern is that focus group interviews only cover a limited set of topics. at most, ten questions. consequently, typical interviews focusing on three or four issues. Nevertheless, using focus groups in criminal justice research is vital to understanding place-related perceptions and particular groups’ behaviors (Sim, & Waterfield, 2019) (Capital Punishment).
Place-related data can be collected from the homeless, residents, sex workers and local business owners. In addition, public transportation users, street and sanitation workers, and other people in a specific area. From a research-oriented perspective, the groupings, as mentioned earlier, can constitute a potential sample for a focus group interview. Moreover, that could generate useful information on social dynamics surrounding a criminal issue. Moreover, focus group interviews could be a source of historical information and change over time.
Advantages of Focus Group Interviews
Focus group interviews can easily measure customer reaction. Criminal justice can be a very sensitive topic for participants as it allows interviewers to record immediate ideas, attitudes, and responses, which subsequently improve existing concepts. Moreover, it provides insights into current issues and collects information on participants’ perceptions of policies, procedures, and changes in matters of criminal justice (Sim, & Waterfield, 2019). Focus group interviews are also time-saving. Researchers solicit many opinions and feedback on multiple aspects more effectively and on time than time-intensive processes of conducting interviews individually (Capital Punishment).
Disadvantages of Focus Group Interviews
Focus groups are less efficient than individual interviews as they are also not as in-depth as other research techniques. In most cases, participants fail to express their honest and personal opinions, especially when their thoughts conflict with others. Focus groups’ execution is costly compared to surveys and questionnaires because respondents often offer free time while others have to be compensated (Dilshad, & Latif, 2013). Consequently, there are cases of moderator bias, and this greatly influences outcomes. Inaccurate results can emanate from moderators demonstrating personal biases during conversations directly or indirectly, making respondents compelled to provide unreliable feedback (Capital Punishment).
Dilshad, R. M., & Latif, M. I. (2013). Focus group interview as a tool for qualitative research: An analysis. Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences (PJSS), 33(1).
Kramer, M. H. (2011). The ethics of capital punishment: A philosophical investigation of evil and its consequences. OUP Oxford.
Peersman, G. (2014). Overview: Data collection and analysis methods in impact evaluation. UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti.
Sim, J., & Waterfield, J. (2019). Focus group methodology: some ethical challenges. Quality & Quantity, 53(6), 3003-3022.
Smith, R. J. (2012). The geography of the death penalty and its ramifications. BUL Rev., 92, 227.
Snell, T. L. (2012). Capital punishment, 2010-Statistical tables. BiblioGov.