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Local Media and the Lethal Injection Drug Shortage in the United States

By Emily Sandercock


The death penalty in the United States is a much studied, and a much debated, topic of research. This project examines the issue in a new light by focusing on the way in which the recent lethal injection drug shortage is likely to impact public thinking surrounding the death penalty. It will analyze the ways in which regional news sources (television and newspaper) have portrayed the lethal injection drug shortage in four state capitals through the use of a media analysis. This is coverage that deserves study as an influence and reflection of public thinking in localities of the United States. This study found that when states carried out rushed executions, to avoid the expiration date of drugs which are in short supply, coverage was more likely to focus on botched executions. When states responded to the shortage by making theoretical changes to the law, for instance by allowing firing squads to be used as a method of execution, the shortage was more likely to be framed in terms of a challenge to local authority and responsibility. The portrayal of the lethal injection shortage and the likely impact on public thinking following from this is therefore dependent upon the situation in the localities where it is experienced and on the way in which decision-makers respond to it

Topics: death penalty, lethal injection, media analysis, local media, American Studies
Publisher: ScholarWorks@Arcadia
Year: 2018
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Provided by: Arcadia University
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