Public Release:  Are Southern death-row inmates more polite?

SAGE Publications

Los Angeles, CA (April 8, 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 remorse may be quite different, Eaton believes that apologies can still be helpful for victims of the convicts' crimes.

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

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Find out more by reading the full article entitled "Honor on Death Row: Apology, Remorse, and the Culture of Honor in the U.S. South" published in SAGE Open. For an embargoed copy of the study, please email camille.gamboa@sagepub.com.

SAGE Open is an award-winning, peer-reviewed, "Gold" open access journal from SAGE that publishes original research and review articles in an interactive, open access format. Articles may span the full spectrum of the social and behavioral sciences and the humanities. http://sgo.sagepub.com/

SAGE is a leading international publisher of journals, books, and electronic media for academic, educational, and professional markets. Since 1965, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students spanning a wide range of subject areas including business, humanities, social sciences, and science, technology, and medicine. An independent company, SAGE has principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC. http://www.sagepublications.com

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