- Review Symposium in Perspecitves on Politics (the official
journal of the American Political Science Association), vol. 7, no.
4 (December 2009): 921-30. Reviews by James
A. Morone; Robert
Y. Shapiro; Marie
Gottschalk; and Austin
Administration, 89, No. 2 (2011): 698–717, by David
International Journal of Press/Politics, 14 (2009): 134-140,
by James N. Druckman
- Journal of
Politics, 71 (2009): 1604-1606, by Rosalee A. Clawson
Journal of Public Opinion Research, Vol. 21, No. 4 (2009):
547-550, by Robert M. Bohm
Justice Policy Review, Vol. 20, No. 4 (2009): , 507-508, by
Criminology, Vol 13, no. 2, ( 2009): 259-62 by Alexander J.
and Politics Book Review, Vol. 17, no. 8, July 27, 2008,
by Priscilla H. M. Zotti
August 2008, by M. A. Foley.
Penn State, 2008, by Vicki Fong
- Contemporary Sociology 37, 5 (2008): 495, Take Note short reviews.
Mentions of our Project or Book in the Press and on the Blogs
- Death Penalty Fades As Hot-Button Issue, by Alan Greenblatt, NPR It's All Politics Blog, May 2, 2014.
- Race and Innocence in North Carolina: The New Chapter for the State Death Penalty, by Troy Homesley, Campus Blueprint, April 4, 2013
- How the Media is Killing the Death Penalty, Washington Post, March 17, 2013.
Decline of the Death Penalty, October 18, 2011, by Dimiter Toshkov
on his blog: Rules of Reason: Uses and Abuses of Research on Public
Policy and Administration.
- From the Monkey Cage:
and the Death Penalty, by Matthew Yglesias, ThinkProgress, September
Penn State, 2009, Interview with Suzanna Linn, by Jesse Hicks
- University of Southern California newspaper
story on panel discussion between Frank Baumgartner and Jody Amour,
Professor at the USC School of Law, on the death penalty, February
13, 2009 (erratum: the author incorrectly quotes Baumgartner as saying
that all the exonerated had served a minimum of 10 years in prison;
this is close to the average, not the minimum.)
Until Reported Guilty, by Steve Weinberg, September 23, 2008
- Put Your Best
Facet Forward, Milo Public Affairs, January 2008
Texas Project, October 19, 2007
Journal, April 2007
Penalty Focus, September 2006.
Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, posted November 2005
Family Members Crusade Against the Death Penalty, Austin American
Statesman, October 29, 2005
A TV interview with Frank Baumgartner discussing the book
Friday, April 4, 2008, 5:30-6:00 pm, Pennsylvania Inside Out, from
WPSX-TV. The segment begins with a discussion of the race for in Pennsylvania's
5th congressional distirct. Then, Patty Satalia talks with Penn State
political scientist Frank Baumgartner about his new book The Decline
of The Death Penalty and the Discovery of Innocence. Dowload
and view the podcast. (mp4 format, 30 minutes of video)
The Decline of the Death Penalty in America, Panel Discussion
Presenter(s):Frank R. Baumgartner, Miller-LaVigne Professor of Political
Science, Penn State Univ., Harold Wilson - Wrongfully Accused / Former
Death Row Inmate, Reverand. Walter Everett; Speaker in Memory of His
Son Lost to Murder, Andy Hoover, American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania,
Event Moderator. click
here to watch a video of the panel discussion, recorded at Penn
State on March 25, 2008.Length: 1 Hour 27 Minutes 23 Seconds.
A Radio Interview with Baumgartner and Boydstun
Title: The Decline of the Death Penalty, Take Note Radio, with Patty
Satalia, broadcast by WPSU-FM. Sunday, March 2, 2008, 7:30-8:00 AM.
Guests: Frank Baumgartner, Amber Boydstun, & Andrew F. Susko (President
of the Pennsylvania Bar Association). In theory, most Americans support
the death penalty, but the possibility of mistakes and recent discoveries
of innocence have led to historic shifts in public opinion and to a
sharp decline in executions. Last fall, the American Bar Association
released a study criticizing Pennsylvania's death penalty system. Is
capital punishment on its deathbed? Click
here to listen to the show (mp3 format, 28 minutes of audio)
An Audio Podcast from the 2011 Midwest Political Science Association meetings
Authors Meet Critics: The Decline of the Death Penalty and the Discovery of Innocence (CUP, 2008) by Frank R. Baumgartner, Suzanna De Boef, and Amber Boydstun
Stefaan Walgrave, University of Antwerp, Chair
Suzanna Linn De Boef, Pennsylvania State University
Amber Ellen Boydstun, University of California, Davis
Frank R. Baumgartner, Universitiy of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Robert S. Erikson, Columbia University
Mark S. Hurwitz, Western Michigan University
Dara Strolovitch, University of Minnesota
Research on Capital Punishment in America
Since 2003 Frank Baumgartner and colleagues have been involved in a
project tracing the changing politics and issue-definitions associated
with the death penalty. The question is to determine the degree to which
the new "innocence" frame is displacing the traditional "morality" frame
relating to this issue. Important substantive issues about the future
of the death penalty in America can be addressed as well as difficult
methodological issues concerning how to study the links among issue-definition,
public opinion, the media, and public policy.
With Suzanna De Boef,
graduate student Amber
Boydstun, and occasional other collaborators on different parts
of the project, Baumgartner and others have addressed a number of questions
relating to these issues. The research has focused on substantive issues
relating to how the media has covered the death penalty (with particular
reference to the use of various frames), public opinion (in particular
the cognitive process by which individuals react to the "moral" and
the "innocence" frame, based on experiments), and the history of the
issue since 1960.
- Read our article "Media Framing of Capital Punishment
and Its Impact on Individuals' Cognitive Responses" (Frank E.
Dardis, Frank R. Baumgartner, Amber E. Boydstun, Suzanna De Boef,
and Fuyuan Shen), forthcoming, Mass Communication and Society
- Read our paper "The Decline
of the Death Penalty: How Media Framing Changed Capital Punishment
in America," in Brian F. Schaffner and Patrick J. Sellers,
eds. Winning with Words: The Origins and Impact of
Framing. New York: Routledge, 2009, pp. 159-84, based
on a paper we presented at a conference at American University in
- Read an article entitled "Death and Innocence" published
in the National Journal in April 2007 that focuses on some
of our research.
Click on the links below to see various papers or presentations drawn
from this project.
- The Discovery of Innocence.
Presentation to Witness to Innocence, October 24, 2009.
- The Discovery of
Innocence: Americans and the Death Penalty. Paper presented at
the Annual Meetings of the National Conference of Black Political
Scientists, Chicago IL, March 21, 2008.
- The Discovery of Innocence. Presentation
to the Public Policy Institute of California, October 27, 2006.
- The Discovery of Innocence. Presentation
to the UCLA Law School Conference on Wrongful Convictions, April 8,
- Issue-Definition and Policy
Change: Capital Punishment and the Rise of the “Innocence Frame,”
1960–2003. Frank R.Baumgartner, Suzanna De Boef, and Amber E.
Boydstun. Working paper, December 7, 2005.
- Framing Capital Punishment: Morality, Constitutionality, and Innocence,
1960-2003, a presentation to the National Coalition to Abolish the
Death Penalty, Austin Texas, October 28, 2005.
- Read a longer background paper giving more detail.This
paper presents the full results of our study, Comments are welcome.
- All Frames Are Not Equal: Framing and
Conflict Displacement. Suzanna De Boef, Frank R. Baumgartner,
Amber E. Boydstun, Frank E. Dardis, and Fuyuan Shen. This paper presents
experimental evidence on the effectiveness of three different frames
relating to the death penalty: the "innocence" frame as well as the
traditional pro- and anti- "morality" frames. The paper was submitted
for review to a professional journal in August 2005.
- Read the Experimental Booklet that we distributed
to the participants in our experiment. This explains all the questions
they were asked, the stories each group read, and further details
relating to our experiment.
- An Evolutionary
Factor Analysis Approach to the Study of Issue-Definition. Paper
presented at the annual meetings of the Midwest Political Science
Association, Chicago, IL, April 15-18, 2004. (with Suzanna De Boef
and Amber E. Boydstun) [updated May 11, 2004]
- This paper focuses on a methodology to study framing based on
evolutionary factor analysis: factor analysis conducted repeatedly
over short windows of time, so that we can trace the rise of new
- (Click here to see the original
version.) The updated version simply has the formatting and graphs
improved. We recommend the corrected version but there are no
substantive or textual differences between the two.
Much of the work makes use of a comprehensive coding of New York
Times coverage of the death penalty from 1960 to present.
Some Power Point presentations have given overviews of some findings:
- From "Justice" to Mistake: Changing Public Understandings
of the Death Penalty in the United States, presentation to the
Department of Political and Social Sciences, European University Institute,
Florence, November 22, 2004.
- Justice, Retribution,
or Mistake? The Changing Tones of Media Coverage of Capital Punishment
in the US. Presentation to 24th Annual NAACP-LDF Capital Punishment
Training Conference, Airlie Conference Center, Warrenton, VA, July
17-20, 2003 (with Cheryl Feeley and Amber Boydstun)
- Justice, Retribution,
or Mistake? Discussing the Death Penalty in America. Powerpoint
presentation to The Justice Project, Washington, DC May 15, 2003 (with
Cheryl Feeley and Amber Boydstun)
Current Research and Work in Progress
In 2009 Baumgartner moved to the University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill. He continues his research on capital punishment both in North
Carolina and nationally. Below are bits of research in progress from
Letters to the editor and guest newspaper columns about capital punishment
in North Carolina and nationally
- The death penalty is about to go on trial in California. Here’s why it might lose. WashingtonPost.com Monkey Cage, August 5, 2015.
- The number of lethal injections is declining. That’s what history would predict. WashingtonPost.com Monkey Cage, June 29, 2015.
- Most death penalty sentences are overturned. Here’s why that matters. WashingtonPost.com Monkey Cage, March 17, 2015. (Frank R. Baumgartner and Anna W. Dietrich)
- To read this post in Italian, click here.
- Commentaries on our piece:
- CrimeAndConsequences.com, March 17, 2015
- ABAJournal.com, March 18, 2015
- TheCrimeReport.org, March 18, 2015
- AllGov.com, March 20, 2015
- Racial reconciliation demands Christians reconsider the death penalty, by Antipas L. Harris, April 1, 2015, Religion News Service
- See the US Supreme Court decision in Glossip v. Gross (2015), in which Justice Breyer refers to our study in his dissent. (Search for "Baumgartner" in the text.)
- North Carolina’s rickety, unreliable death penalty, Raleigh News and Observer, February 14, 2015
- NC’s death penalty: Going, going, good riddance. North Carolina Policy Watch, November 18, 2013
- Governor must veto RJA repeal,
Winston Salem Journal, December 8, 2011
bias essential in death penalty cases, The Burlington Times-News,
November 26, 2011
- On the decline: murders
and death sentences, Raleigh News & Observer, October
- Four similar Op-Eds relating to the crisis in the state crime lab
as it relates to the death penalty from September 2010.
- Death Penalty Moratorium is
Not Enough, Chapel Hill News, October 10, 2010
- Time to Commute
N.C.'s Death Sentences. Carrboro Citizen, September
- N.C. Should Commute Death
Sentences, Herald-Sun, September 16, 2010.
- The Death of the
Death Penalty at Hand? Asheville Citizen-Times, September
- In N.C., only 20
percent of condemned are executed. Charlotte Observer,
March 5, 2010.
- Death penalty's
vanishing point? Raleigh News & Observer, January 24,
- NC’s death penalty: Going, going, good riddance. North Carolina Policy Watch, November 18, 2013.
Research reports, presentations, and research in progress.
concerning disparities in death sentencing by the race and gender
of the victim, March 20, 2010
- Link here for information concerning the April
7, 2010 event at UNC-Chapel Hill on Race, Wrongful Convictions,
- See the slides that I presented on Race
and the Death Penalty in North Carolina at that April 7 event
- Link here for information concerning the March-April
2010 series of events on Race, Wrongful Convictions, and the Death
Penalty in North Carolina at the Wake Forest School of Law, UNC-CH,
Fayatteville State Univesity, and North Carolina A&T University.
- See some analysis I did in October 2010 relating to the geographical
distribution of executions from 1976 to present. Click to download
either the overview paper
or a spreadsheet showing every state
and county in the
US with its number of executions
- Link to a blog
post by Robert Smith with maps based on the data on executions
by county referenced above.
- Frank R. Baumgartner and Isaac Unah, The
Decline of Capital Punishment in North Carolina. Paper presented
at the annual meetings of the American Society of Criminology, November
17-20, 2010, San Francisco.
- In 2010-11, I supervised the senior thesis of Alissa Ellis entitled
Executing the Vulnerable
Among Us: An Analysis of Mental Capacity, Mental Illness and the Death
Penalty in North Carolina. Alissa reviews the history of executions
in North Carolina since 1900 with a focus on issues relating to the
mentally handicapped and the mentally ill.
- In 2011-12 I supervised Lindsey Stephens in her senior thesis entitled Indigent Defense Funding and its Effect on Capital Punishment in North Carolina, 1976-Present. Lindsey analyzes the impact of the creation of the state-wide office of Indigent Defense Services on the decline of the use of the death penalty in North Carolina.
- Prof. Matthew Robinson of Appalachian State University has compiled
on the state of social science research on the death penalty in North
Carolina. On April 19, 2011, he was interviewed
on WUNC radio's State of Things to summarize the results.
- Two analyses of the geographical distribution of US executions from
1977 to April 2011, from April 28, 2011:
- First, a series of maps that show the distribution of executions
by county, entitled Where
the executions are.
- Second, a statistical analysis of the data underlying the maps
above that show that, for states, for counties, and for counties
at different historical time periods, the distribution is a statistical
"power law." This implies that the process that leads
to an execution has more to do with how many executions have previously
been administered in that jurisdiction than other factors. This
presentation is entitled "A
Power Law of Death." Click here for an updated
version of that presentation given in March 2012 at Georgetown University.
- You can see a video of my presentation of the Power Law of Death
at the Santa Fe Institute on August 18 2011 by
clicking here, then browsing through the various presentations.
to see the slides from that presentation.
Are capital punishments days numbered?" by Susan Hardy,
©2011 Endeavors magazine, University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill. This article reviews UNC researchers Baumgartner,
Unah, and Boger who have been involved in studies of race and the
death penalty relating to the Racial Justice Act and to the puzzle
of the decline of the death penalty. Published April 26, 2011.
- See my new database consisting of information about every
execution in the US since 1976.
- Race and the Death Penalty in North Carolina, presentation at Appalachian State University, November 6, 2012.
- Public Policy Responses to Wrongful Convictions. Forthcoming in Examining Wrongful Convictions: Stepping Back, Moving Forward, edited by James Acker et al., Carolina Academic Publishing, 2014. (Frank R. Baumgartner, Saundra D. Westervelt, and Kimberly J. Cook)
- The Hierarchy of Victims in Death Penalty Processing. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists, Wilmington DE, March 13–15, 2014. (Frank R. Baumgartner, Seth Kotch, and Isaac Unah)
- Senior Thesis of Anna Dietrich from 2014 on the surprisingly high rates at which death sentences are later overturned on review by higher courts. Nationally, only about 20-25 percent of death sentences are eventually carried out, and this rate varies widely by state. (See above for a MonkeyCage post from March 17, 2015 based on this thesis, with updated numbers)
- The Mayhem of Wrongful Liberty: Documenting the Crimes of True Perpetrators in Cases of Wrongful Incarceration. Paper presented at the Innocence Network Conference, Portland OR, April 11-12 2014. (Frank R. Baumgartner, Amanda Grigg, Rachelle Ramìrez, Kenneth J. Rose, and J. Sawyer Lucy)
- North Carolina’s Wasteful Experience with the Death Penalty. 1 February, 2015. (See an OpEd above from 14 February 2015 based on this analysis as well.)
- An interview on WUNC radio: Why Have There Been No Executions In North Carolina? By Phoebe Judge, 10 April 2015. Or download the audio interview directly here (7 minutes, mp3 format)
- Does a death sentence always mean death? By Charlotte McDonald BBC News, 23 May 2015, or related radio interview on More or Less from that same date. More or Less is a show that reviws the use of data in the news, and the question is whether Bryan Stevenson's comment that we have exonerated one person from death row for every nine people executed.
An idea of the vocabulary we use in the book, courtesy of wordle.net:
August 5, 2015