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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 93751 Find in a Library
Title: Symposium on Current Death Penalty Issues
Journal: Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology  Volume:74  Issue:3  Dated:(Fall 1983)  Pages:complete issue
Corporate Author: Northwestern University
School of Law
Managing Editor
United States of America
Editor(s): M Meltsner; M E Wolfgang
Date Published: 1983
Page Count: 436
Sponsoring Agency: Northwestern University
Chicago, IL 60611
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Articles in this symposium focus upon the application of State capital punishment statutes since the U.S. Supreme Court's 'Furman' decision, research on the deterrent effects of capital punishment, and issues pertinent to the handling of capital cases.
Abstract: A study of the Georgia Supreme Court's comparative review of death sentences found that the procedure of sentence review fails to identify death sentences that are presumptively excessive in comparison with 'similar' cases because of the flawed sentence review procedures used. Another study found that both race of victim and location of crime (rural or urban) are independent influences on prosecutors' decisions to seek the death penalty in South Carolina. Killers of whites are significantly more likely to be charged with capital murder than are killers of blacks, and there were significantly more requests for death sentences in rural than in urban jurisdictions, although a greater proportion of urban homicides were 'death eligible.' One essay argues that rigorous appellate review, including proportionality review, should be constitutionally required in cases involving a death sentence. Further, it is concluded that existing appellate review of capital sentencing has been highly subjective in case characterizations while resisting efforts to objectify the case comparison process. In an attempt to overcome identified aggregation and measurement error problems of previous research on the deterrent effects of capital punishment, one study conducted a monthly time-series analysis of executions and first-degree murders in Chicago for 1915-21, finding that the net effect of executions may well have been to increase rather than decrease first-degree murders and total criminal homicides. Other reports of research studies on the deterrence effectiveness of capital punishment, including a cross-national longitudinal study and an examination of the short-term effect of particular executions, fail to support the theory that capital punishment deters capital crimes. Other studies address the adequacy of procedures for dealing with 'death row' inmates who resist pursuing legal efforts to avoid the imposition of the death sentence and issues pertaining to psychiatric testimony and the fifth amendment privilege in capital cases. For individual documents, see NCJ 93752-62.
Index Term(s): Capital punishment; Deterrence effectiveness; Discrimination; Sentence review
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