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Who's the Fairest in the Land? Analysis of Judge and Jury Death Penalty Decisions

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  • Radha Iyengar

Abstract

The fairness of the application of the death penalty has come under question in recent years, amid the growing number of minority death row inmates. In this study, the Supreme Court decision Ring v. Arizona, which changed the death penalty sentencing phase in 13 states, is used to identify the different case and defendant characteristics that affect the decision to apply the death penalty. Using data that link homicide incidents to defendant trial outcomes in states with the death penalty, estimates suggest that juries both are more likely to apply the death penalty than judges and are more influenced by the age and race of the victim and the offender. These results raise concerns over the recent shift from judicial- to jury-based sentencing in capital cases.

Suggested Citation

  • Radha Iyengar, 2011. "Who's the Fairest in the Land? Analysis of Judge and Jury Death Penalty Decisions," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(3), pages 693-722.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:doi:10.1086/661565
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:94:y:2000:i:02:p:407-423_22 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Kubik, Jeffrey D & Moran, John R, 2003. "Lethal Elections: Gubernatorial Politics and the Timing of Executions," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(1), pages 1-25, April.
    3. Smith, M. Dwayne, 1987. "Patterns of discrimination in assessments of the death penalty: The case of Louisiana," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 279-286.
    4. Besley, Timothy & Case, Anne, 2000. "Unnatural Experiments? Estimating the Incidence of Endogenous Policies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(467), pages 672-694, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bindler, Anna & Hjalmarsson, Randi, 2016. "The Fall of Capital Punishment and the Rise of Prisons: How Punishment Severity Affects Jury Verdicts," Working Papers in Economics 674, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    2. Bekkerman, Anton & Gilpin, Gregory A., 2014. "Can equitable punishment be mandated? Estimating impacts of sentencing guidelines on disciplinary disparities," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 51-61.
    3. Wayne Geerling & Gary Magee & Vinod Mishra & Russell Smyth, 2016. "Hitler's Judges: Ideological Commitment and the Death Penalty in Nazi Germany," Monash Economics Working Papers 10-16, Monash University, Department of Economics.

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