Southerners Twice as Likely to Apologize Before Execution

Though they're no more likely to show genuine remorse: researcher
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2014 1:35 PM CDT
Southerners Twice as Likely to Apologize Before Execution
Southerners are more likely to apologize for their crimes before they're executed, a study finds.   (Shutterstock)

In their final moments, Southerners stand apart from other Americans: In statements before execution, Southern inmates were twice as likely to say they were sorry for their actions, a study finds. They weren't, however, "more likely than non-Southerners to express remorse," says researcher Judy Eaton, who perused the final words of 299 executed Southerners and 60 executed non-Southerners between 2000 and 2011. (Why the imbalance? More executions take place in the South, the Smithsonian notes.)

Remorse was "defined as the extent to which they accepted responsibility, asked for forgiveness, expressed regret, and appeared to be earnest," she says, per NBC News. Worth noting: The study defined people as Southern or non-Southern depending on the state in which they were executed, not the state in which they were born; that information wasn't available. "One explanation for the higher likelihood of Southern apologies is that Southerners are more wedded to particular norms regarding politeness and kindness than those from the rest of the United States," writes Eaton in the study, adding that the lack of remorse in the apologies suggests that in the South, "politeness can be used to mask hostility and/or to deflect anger." (In Tennessee, those apologies might soon come before a convict goes ... to the electric chair.)

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