Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name


Department (Legacy)

Department of Justice Administration

Committee Chair

Tewksbury, Richard

Author's Keywords

Family members; Murder victims; Capital punishment; Death penalty; Perceptions; Executions


Capital punishment--Public opinion; Murder victims' families--Attitudes; Murder victims' families--Psychology


Two common assumptions are that the family members of murder victims will achieve closure and perceive a sense of justice following the execution of their loved one's murderer. These assumptions, however, may be unfounded. Using family member statements from newspaper articles reporting on 138 executions in the United States from 2006-2011, the current study examines family member post-execution feelings and attitudes as reported in the media. Results indicate that family member closure and perceived justice following the execution, although the most preeminent themes that emerge, are still relatively uncommon. The results of the current study are discussed in the context of previous literature on media studies examining post-execution family member feelings and attitudes, the death penalty process and public opinion and perception of the death penalty. Societal as well as policy implications are discussed.