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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 200180 Find in a Library
Title: Capital Punishment for the Crime of Homicide in Chicago: 1870-1930
Journal: Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology  Volume:92  Issue:3/4  Dated:Spring/Summer 2002  Pages:843-866
Author(s): Derral Cheatwood Ph.D.
Date Published: 2002
Page Count: 24
Document: HTML|PDF
Type: Historical Overview; Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: After presenting a general descriptive analysis of homicides that resulted in the death penalty in Chicago from 1870 to 1930, this paper considers whether inequities in race and economic status were reflected in those decisions, and any changes in the use of capital punishment over the 50 years of the data are identified.
Abstract: There were 114 homicide cases confirmed to have involved death sentences from 1870 to 1930. Of this total, the study confirmed that in 76 of the cases at least 1 offender sentenced was executed. From the set of 9,095 "intentional victim" cases, approximately 1.2 percent resulted in a death sentence; and in only about 0.96 percent of these cases was an offender executed. Executions commonly occurred within a year, and often within a few months, of the sentence. The percentage of cases that resulted in the death penalty was relatively consistent through this era, and it is similar to modern percentages. There were 7,536 defendants for whom there were data on race. When focusing on both the race of the offender and the race of the victim, this study found significant support for the argument that the lives of both Black offenders and Black victims were devalued in capital punishment cases. In cases where executions were eventually performed, there was a pronounced racial difference, reflecting primarily the race of the victim; no White offender was ever sentenced for killing a Black victim. Data on the employment for offenders executed and not executed are sparse, so conclusions in this area are anecdotal. Of the 94 cases that resulted in an execution, the occupation of the offender was indicated in only 13 cases; in 11 of these cases, the offender was listed as "outside the labor force." In conclusion, the author advises that the reasons why people kill other people, along with the frequency with which they do it, have changed little over a century, suggesting that the existence and application of capital punishment has not had a significant deterrent effect. 7 tables and 28 notes
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Capital punishment; Deterrence effectiveness; Economic influences; Employment; Illinois; Racial discrimination
Note: For other documents related to this study, see NCJ-200171-79 and NCJ-200181-82.
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