This paper, published in the Boston University Law Review by Robert J. Smith, Visiting Assistant Professor of Law, DePaul University College of Law, analyzes data to assert that the distribution of death sentences nationally demonstrates that a fragmented few counties sentence people to death while the vast majority of jurisdictions largely have abandoned capital punishment.
By Jim Liebman, Simon H. Rifkind Professor of Law at Columbia University and Peter Clarke. Although supported in principle by two-thirds of the public and even more of the States, capital punishment in the United States is a minority practice when the actual death-sentencing practices of the nation’s 3000-plus counties and their populations are considered.
There is a growing bipartisan consensus that flaws in America’s death-penalty system have reached crisis proportions. Many fear that capital trials put people on death row who don’t belong there. Others say capital appeals take too long. This report published in 2000 by James S. Liebman, Jeffrey Fagan, and Valerie West—the first statistical study ever undertaken of modern American capital appeals (4,578 of them in state capital cases between 1973 and 1995)—suggests that both claims are correct.
Part II of this study from 2002 by James S. Liebman, Jeffrey Fagan, Andrew Gelman, Valerie West, Garth Davies, and Alexander Kiss addresses two critical questions: Why does our death penalty system make so many mistakes? How can these mistakes be prevented, if at all?
This essay by Mark Lawrence McPhail, Rachel Lyon, and David Harris was published in the North Kentucky Law Review. The paper focuses an interdisciplinary lens on the procedural, philosophical, and pragmatic tensions raised by the trial, media coverage, and eventual execution of Troy Davis. It seeks to illuminate the ways in which legal, social, and moral attitudes and institutions remain tainted by the hidden racialized communication of the media.
This paper by Justin F. Marceau and Hollis A. Whitson was written for University of Denver Sturm College of Law Legal Research Paper Series. The paper analyzes cost of Colorado’s death penalty in court days. It compares the number of days in court and the actual length of time from charges until sentencing in death prosecutions and first-degree murder cases with similarly egregious facts. It finds that death prosecutions require substantially more days in court, and take substantially longer to resolve than non-death-prosecuted first degree murder cases that result in a sentence of life.
This report by the Committee on Law and Justice concludes that research to date on the effect of capital punishment on homicide is not informative about whether capital punishment decreases, increases, or has no effect on homicide rates. Therefore, the report recommends that these studies not be used to inform deliberations requiring judgments about the effect of the death penalty on homicide. Consequently, claims that research demonstrates that capital punishment decreases or increases the homicide rate by a specified amount or has no effect on the homicide rate should not influence policy judgments about capital punishment.
Juan Meléndez-6446, is a documentary produced by Nadia Barbarossa and Luis Rosario Albert for the Puerto Rico Civil Rights Commission. The film presents the story of Juan Meléndez, a Puerto Rican immigrant raised in New York City, who was charged in Florida, USA, for a murder he did not commit. Juan Meléndez remained imprisoned unjustly in the corridor of death (death row) for 17 years, 8 months and 1 day, until his release on 3 January 2002. Juan Melendez currently serves on the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty’s Board of Directors.
This infographic portrays “The Criminalization of America” using statistics ranging from prison population to demographics to costs.
It is unconstitutional for racial bias to play a part in the selection of an individual for capital prosecution, in the prosecution itself, and/or in the imposition of sentence of death. Nevertheless, racial discrimination permeates the capital punishment system.
The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander, is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement.
The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is a member of this coalition of over 200 national groups. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights promotes and protects the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. Our criminal laws, while facially neutral, are enforced in a manner that is massively and pervasively biased. The injustices of the criminal justice system threaten to render irrelevant fifty years of hard-fought civil rights progress. This website serves as a resource on civil and human rights issues from the criminal justice system to workers’ rights and a myriad of other critical areas.
Few cases involving the intersection of race, criminal law, and procedure have had the reach and impact of McCleskey v. Kemp. The Supreme Court’s decision in McCleskey protected criminal justice laws and policies from being challenged on the basis of racially disparate impact. McCleskey now acts as a substantial barrier to the elimination of racial inequalities in the criminal justice system, perpetuating an unfair racial imbalance that has come to define criminal justice in America.
More than 60% of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities. For Black males in their thirties, 1 in every 10 is in prison or jail on any given day. These trends have been intensified by the disproportionate impact of the "war on drugs," in which two-thirds of all persons in prison for drug offenses are people of color. The Sentencing Project publishes regular reports on the racial disparities present in the American prison system. Visit their website for more facts and analysis on incarceration in the United States.
This report was written by Robert Renny Cushing and Susannah Sheffer and published by Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation (MVFR). The report was written both to highlight the need for policies prohibiting prosecutors from pursuing the death penalty in cases where the victims’ families oppose such an act and to challenge the victim services community to develop a protocol that recognizes opposition to the death penalty as a valid response to the trauma of murder.
In an engaging and personal talk -- with cameo appearances from his grandmother and Rosa Parks -- human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson shares some hard truths about America's justice system, starting with a massive imbalance along racial lines: a third of the country's black male population has been incarcerated at some point in their lives. These issues, which are wrapped up in America's unexamined history, are rarely talked about with this level of candor, insight and persuasiveness.
This study, conducted in 2012 by Marilyn Peterson Armour and Mark S. Umbreit and published in the Marquette Law Review, used in-person interviews with a randomly selected sample of survivors from four time periods to examine the totality of the ultimate penal sanction (UPS) process and its longitudinal impact on their lives. Moreover, it assessed the differential effect of two types of UPS by comparing survivors’ experiences in Texas, a death penalty state, and Minnesota, a life without the possibility of parole (LWOP) state. This Study’s findings have implications for trial strategy and policy development.