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Commentary on Stack (1995)

Criminal Justice and Behavior , Volume 22 (2): 187 – Jun 1, 1995


Sage Publications
Copyright © 1995 by SAGE Publications
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Commentary on Stack (1995)


COMMENTARY ON STACK (1995) ANN GOETTING Western Kentucky University Social science researchers should be applauded when their work addresses community needs, especially needs of life-or-death conse- quence. Stack's (1995) efforts to identify a strategy for homicide reduction through publicized executions might appear to demonstrate promise, and therefore, those efforts are worthy of our attention. He is to be commended for refining his work to include a search for population categories that may be particularly responsive to publi- cized executions. Such epidemiological considerations are critical to prevention and are therefore the nucleus of the public health agenda. Using regression analyses, Stack reported a small, but statistically significant decline in homicide for Caucasians following publicized executions. No change was observed among African Americans. Armed with these data, he suggested that African Americans remain unaffected by publicized executions because of their "homicide- producing life circumstances" and because of their lower stake in conformity. In this commentary, I would like to raise several concerns with the study's conceptualization and design, as well as with Stack's interpre- tation of his results. First, one may question his use of the victim's race as a proxy for the offender's race. Stack's research question relates to
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