Are Southern death-row inmates more polite?

Apr 08, 2014

Southern states are known to uphold a culture of honor and adhere to traditional politeness norms, but does this hold true for death-row convicts? A new article published today in SAGE Open finds that Southern death-row offenders are more likely to apologize for crimes in their final statements than offenders from other regions of the U.S.

Researcher Judy Eaton analyzed executed prisoners' final statements from across the U.S. between January 2000 and December 2011. Of the 299 Southerners and 60 non-Southerners studied, offenders were two times more likely to apologize in their final statements if they were from a southern state.

The author analyzed three additional elements of each apology – whether the apology included a request for forgiveness, feelings of regret, and appeared to be earnest or sincere (together labeled "remorse"). A comparison of Southerners and non-Southerners on these elements showed that although Southerners did apologize more, there were no differences in degree of remorse for the two groups. While the data suggest that saying "sorry" and expressing may be quite different, Eaton believes that apologies can still be helpful for of the convicts' crimes.

"If Southern victims (or their families) adhere to the same politeness norms or social scripts as , it may be that an from an offender, regardless of whether it is sincere, may make victims' families feel better."

Explore further: Public boarding school—the way to solve educational ills?

More information: "Honor on Death Row: Apology, Remorse, and the Culture of Honor in the U.S. South" SAGE Open, 2014.

Related Stories

Survey shows limited use of sex offender registry

Jul 09, 2013

Texas has the second largest sex offender registry in the country, but relatively few people are accessing it or using it to develop protective actions against future sex crimes, a study by the Crime Victims' Institute at ...

Docs, lawyers join forces to allow doctors to apologize

Oct 29, 2013

(HealthDay)—A new Senate bill allows health care professionals to make benevolent gestures without fear of these statements being used against them, according to a report published by the Pennsylvania Medical ...

Recommended for you

Public boarding school—the way to solve educational ills?

Apr 25, 2015

Buffalo's chronically struggling school system is considering an idea gaining momentum in other cities: public boarding schools that put round-the-clock attention on students and away from such daunting problems as poverty, ...

Study finds we think better on our feet, literally

Apr 24, 2015

A study from the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health finds students with standing desks are more attentive than their seated counterparts. In fact, preliminary results show 12 percent ...

Improving transfer of migrant remittances

Apr 24, 2015

Millions of people work abroad as maids, construction workers and other low-wage laborers. The money they send back home is essential to their families, helping them start businesses, send children to school ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.