Lethal Elections: Gubernatorial Politics and the Timing of Executions
We document the existence of a gubernatorial election cycle in state executions, suggesting that election year political considerations play a role in determining the timing of executions. Our analysis indicates that states are approximately 25 percent more likely to conduct executions in gubernatorial election years than in other years. We also find that elections have a larger effect on the probability that an African American defendant will be executed in a given year than on the probability that a white defendant will be exeduted, and that the overall effect of elections is largest in the South. These findings raise concerns that state executions may fail to meet the constitutional requirements stipulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in *Gregg v. Georgia* for the administration of state death penalty laws. This paper was revised July 2002.
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"The Determinants of Punishment: Deterrence, Incapacitation and Vengeance,"
NBER Working Papers
7676, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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- Ehrlich, Isaac, 1977. "Capital Punishment and Deterrence: Some Further Thoughts and Additional Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(4), pages 741-788, August.
- Poterba, James M, 1994. "State Responses to Fiscal Crises: The Effects of Budgetary Institutions and Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 799-821, August.
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