In my novel, The California Killing Field, characters Aram Hagopian and Erica Valois identify three psychological orientations to the death penalty. These three orientations emerged from about three decades of research on attitudes toward capital punishment. Abolitionists oppose the death penalty for a variety of reasons. Some abolitionists object to killing people for religious, spiritual, or moral reasons. Others object to the death penalty because innocent people are executed — estimated at 8% to 10% of those on death row. Others are repulsed by botched executions. Others object because the death penalty is handed down to the poor and Persons of Color disproportionately. Still others are opposed to capital punishment because of the high cost of death penalty cases. On the other side are lynchers, people who find visceral pleasure in the details of executions. Lynchers would like to witness executions; some would like to serve as executioners. Botched executions do not bother lynchers. In the middle are abstract supporters. These people support capital punishment in the abstract, but are not interested in the details of an execution. They are not interested in witnessing executions and would never serve as executioners. Abstract supporters are offended by the pleasure that lynchers find in executions. They support capital punishment in the abstract but become increasingly uncomfortable the the execution of a living, breathing human being.
How where do you fit? Are you an abolitionist? An abstract supporter? A lyncher? Why do you feel that way?