Intrinsic and environmental vulnerabilities among incarcerated homicide offenders and executed capital offenders

Kristin Danelle Schaefer, Fordham University

Abstract

The relationships between the intra-psychic variables of psychiatric illness, cognitive ability, and neuropathology, the extrinsic variables of substance abuse, child abuse, and the involvement of drugs and alcohol during the offenses, and the legal punishment received for the commission of homicide were examined. Findings indicated that cognitive ability, race, education level, criminal history, and characteristics of the capital offense distinguished executed capital offenders from other homicide offenders. Executed offender neuropathology, psychiatric illness, substance abuse, and child abuse were found in higher proportions than proportions previously reported among other violent incarcerated populations. Data on individual difference factors were taken from the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) Capital Punishment 1995 data file for all capital offender groups, and from the Kepecs-Schlussel (1994) study for incarcerated homicide offenders. Data on executed capital offender intra-psychic and extrinsic characteristics were obtained through Amnesty International and through a comprehensive newspaper search, and data on incarcerated homicide offender intra-psychic and extrinsic characteristics were taken from the Kepecs-Schlussel (1994) study. ^ Findings indicated that executed capital offenders, death-row inmates, offenders removed from death-row, and incarcerated homicide offenders were similar with respect to most of their demographic indicators. In all groups, the offenders were predominantly single, undereducated males. However, a higher proportion of incarcerated homicide offenders completed the 9th, 10th, and 11th grades in comparison to all capital offender groups. Additionally, while the majority of incarcerated homicide offenders were Black and Hispanic, the majority of all capital offenders groups were White. Criminal history data revealed that executed capital offenders and death-row inmates had a higher proportion of felony convictions and prior murder convictions in comparison to incarcerated homicide offenders. Intellectual ability data indicated that executed capital offenders and incarcerated homicide offenders were impaired in relation to the general population. Executed capital offenders also were more impaired in relation to incarcerated homicide offenders. ^ An examination of the capital offenses leading to execution was conducted. Data were collected through Amnesty International and through a comprehensive newspaper search and revealed four distinct offense types: (a) capital offenses occurring during the commission of other crimes, (b) explosive and impulsive offenses, and (c) crimes of passion, (d) mercenary crimes. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Personality|Sociology, Criminology and Penology

Recommended Citation

Kristin Danelle Schaefer, "Intrinsic and environmental vulnerabilities among incarcerated homicide offenders and executed capital offenders" (January 1, 1999). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3021713.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3021713

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