Published On: 27/10/2014|Categories: 2013–2017, Vol.35 (2014), Vol.35 (3)|

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Fifty students from the Hindu community and 45 students from non-Hindu communities were presented with concrete scenarios depicting a situation in which a defendant has committed a specified crime, and the circumstances of this crime. They were asked to indicate the extent to which they thought that the death penalty would be an appropriate sentence in each concrete case. Four factors were varied in the scenarios: (a) the severity of the crime (robbery, rape, or homicide), (b) the level to which the culpability of the defendant had been established (fully vs. not fully), and whether the defendant whose culpability had been fully demonstrated had expressed remorse for the crime committed, (c) the defendant’s antecedents (whether he had already committed crimes or not), and (d) the level of criminality in the area in which the crime has been committed (low vs. high). Overall, support for the death penalty was relatively high, and no significant difference was found between communities. Appropriateness judgments were higher (a) when the crime was rape or homicide than when it was robbery, (b) when the defendant’s culpability was fully established, (c) when a guilty defendant did not express remorse for the crime committed, and (d) when the defendant was a recidivist. Female students judged the death penalty more appropriate in the case of rape than male students did.

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