Research on the Death Penalty

The following list is a sample of the vast amount of research that has been done on capital punishment, sorted by category.  Other resources may be found under our topics of Articles, Law Reviews, Studies, and Books, as well as in DPIC Reports.

Arbitrariness
Costs
Deterrence
Innocence
Mental Illness
Race
Representation

 

 

 

 


Arbitrariness


Missouri Death Penalty Assessment (2012)
Study by the American Bar Association's (ABA) Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project determining that Missouri's capital punishment laws are plagued with serious problems.

The Death Penalty in Alabama: Judge Override (2011)
Study by the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama exposing the practice of state judges imposing death sentences by overriding a jury's recommendation for life.

The Geography of the Death Penalty and its Ramifications (2011)
A study by Professor Robert J. Smith of the DePaul University College of Law examines the imposition of death sentences by counties in the U.S.

Minority Practice, Majority's Burden: The Death Penalty Today (2011)
A study by Professor James S. Liebman and Peter Clarke from Columbia University Law School analyzing the declining use of the death penalty.

Chivalry is Not Dead: Murder, Gender, and the Death Penalty (2011)
A study by Professor Steven Shatz of the University of San Francisco Law School and Naomi Shatz of the New York Civil Liberties Union suggests that gender bias continues to exist in the application of the death penalty.

What's Messing with Texas Death Sentences? (2011)
Study analyzing the decline of death sentencing in Texas by Drake University Law School Professor David McCord.

Excessive Sentencing in North Carolina (2010)
Study by Professor Frank Baumgartner showing that most of those originally condemned to death in North Carolina eventually received lesser sentences when their cases were concluded.

Status Disparities in the Capital of Capital Punishment (2009)
A study by Scott Phillips, a sociology and criminology professor at the University of Denver, published in the Law & Society Review focusing on the imposition of death sentences in relation to the victim's social status.

Legal Disparities in the Capital of Capital Punishment (2009)
A study that reveals disparities in who receives the death penalty in Texas by Scott Phillips, a professor at the Department of Sociology and Criminology at the University of Denver.

Death in Decline '09 (2009)
A study by the ACLU of Northern California revealing that only three counties (Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside) accounted for 83% of the state's death sentences in 2009.

The Death Penalty in Florida (2009)
An evaluation of Florida's death penalty by Christopher Slobogin, Professor of Law and Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University.

Life and Death Decisions: Prosecutorial Discretion and Capital Punishment in Missouri (2008)
A study by Katherine Barnes of Arizona University Law School, and David Sloss and Stephen Thaman of St. Louis Univeristy Law School, studying 1046 cases of intentional homicide in Missouri to determine geographical and racial effects in the rates at which prosecutors seek the death penalty.

Missouri Death Penalty and Geography (2008)
Study by Prof. David Sloss of the St. Louis University School of Law showing that the chance of a death sentence appears to rest on what part of the state the crime was committed in.

Death by Geography (2008)
A study by the ACLU of Northern California examining the variation among California counties in seeking the death penalty.

Arbitrariness in Death Cases (2007)
Study by Professor John Donohue of Yale University's School of Law of death sentences in Connecticut finding that seeking the death penalty often correlated with the race of the victim and the defendant, and not necessarily with the severity of the crimes.

Ohio Death Penalty Assessment Report (2007)
Study by the American Bar Association stating that Ohio's capital punishment system is so flawed that it should be suspended while the state conducts a thorough review of its fairness and accuracy. 

Pennsylvania Death Penalty Assessment Report (2007)
Study by the American Bar Association (ABA) showing that flaws in Pennsylvania's death penalty system are so pervasive that the state risks executing an innocent person.

Georgia Death Penalty Assessment Report (2006)
Study by the American Bar Association Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project found that Georgia's death penalty fails to meet 43 ABA standards for improving the fairness and accuracy of the death penalty.

Alabama Death Penalty Assessment (2006)
Study by the American Bar Association's Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project found that Alabama's death penalty failed to meet fundamental ABA standards of fairness and accuracy.

Arizona Death Penalty Assessment (2006)
Study by the American Bar Association's (ABA) Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project determining that Arizona's capital punishment laws are plagued with serious problems.

Florida Death Penalty Assessment (2006)
Study by the American Bar Association of Florida's death penalty system.

 

The Effect of Race, Gender, and Location on Prosecutorial Decision to Seek the Death Penalty in South Carolina (2006)
Study of homicide cases in South Carolina by Professor Isaac Unah of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and attorney Michael Songer finding that prosecutors were more likely to seek the death penalty when the victim in the underlying murder was white, if the victim was female, and when the crime occurred in a rural area of the state.

Broken Justice: The Death Penalty in Alabama (2005)
Study by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), showing how structural and procedural flaws in Alabama’s criminal justice system stack the deck against fair trials and appropriate sentencing for those facing the death penalty.

The Impact of Legally Inappropriate Factors on Death Sentencing for California Homicides, 1990-1999 (2005)
A study by G. Pierce & M. Radelet published in the Santa Clara Law Review finding that the race of the victim in the underlying murder greatly affected whether a defendant would be sentenced to death.


Costs


Nevada Cost Study 2012
A study by Dr. Terance Miethe of the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Nevada on the costs of the death penalty in Nevada.

California Cost Study 2011
DPIC summary of "A roadmap to mend or end the California legislature's multi-billion dollar death penalty debacle" from Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review by Judge Arthur L. Alarcon & Paula M. Mitchell.

Minority Practice, Majority's Burden: The Death Penalty Today (2011)
A study by Professor James S. Liebman and Peter Clarke from Columbia University Law School analyzing the declining use of the death penalty.

The Death Penalty in North Carolina: A Summary of the Data and Scientific Studies (2011)
A comprehensive review of studies on the death penalty by Matthew Robinson, Professor of Government and Justice Studies at Appalachian State University.

Indiana Cost Study (2010)
Study by the Indiana Office of Fiscal and Management Analysis detailing the disparity in cost between death penalty cases and non-death penalty cases in Indiana.

The Hidden Death Tax (2009)
A study by the ACLU of Northern California on the costs of the death penalty found additional expenses due to a net increase in the size of death row.

Potential Savings from Abolition of the Death Penalty in North Carolina (2009)
A study published by a Duke University economist revealing that North Carolina could save $11 million annually if it dropped the death penalty.

The High Cost of the Death Penalty (2009)
A study by the Independent Weekly showing that North Carolina conservatively spent at least $36 million dollars by seeking the death penalty instead of life in prison without parole over a seven year span.

Maryland Cost Study (2008)
Study by the Urban Institute detailing the disparity in cost between death penalty cases and non-death penalty cases in Maryland.

Federal Cost Study (2008)
Study by the Judicial Conference Committee on Defender Services detailing the disparity in cost between federal death penalty cases and non-death penalty cases.

New Jersey Cost Study (2005)
Study by New Jersey Policy Perspectives detailing the disparity in cost between death penalty cases and non-death penalty cases in New Jersey.

Kansas Cost Study (2003)
Study by the Kansas government detailing the disparity in cost between death penalty cases and non-death penalty cases in Kansas.


Deterrence


Deterrence and the Death Penalty (2012)
A study by the National Research Council of the National Academies based on a review of more than three decades of research concluding that studies claiming a deterrent effect on murder rates from the death penalty are fundamentally flawed.

The Death Penalty in North Carolina: A Summary of the Data and Scientific Studies (2011)
A comprehensive review of studies on the death penalty by Matthew Robinson, Professor of Government and Justice Studies at Appalachian State University.

Does the death penalty save lives? New evidence from state panel data, 1977 to 2006 (2009)
A study by researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas on whether executions deter homicides using state panel date and employing well-known econometric procedures for panel analysis.

Do Executions Lower Homicide Rates? The Views of Leading Criminologists (2009)
A study by Professor Michael Radelet, Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and graduate student Traci Lacock detailing the views of the top criminologists in the country on the deterrence effect of the death penalty.

Death and Deterrence Redux: Science, Law and Causal Reasoning on Capital Punishment (2007)
A study by Dr. Jeffrey Fagan of Columbia University describing numerous serious errors in recent deterrence studies, including improper statistical analyses and missing data and variables that are necessary to give a full picture of the criminal justice system.

The Death Penalty: No Evidence for Deterrence (2006)
A study by John Donnohue and Justin Wolfers examining recent statistical studies that claimed to show a deterrent effect from the death penalty.

The Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate (2005)
A study by John J. Donohue of Yale Law School and Justin Wolfers of the University of Pennsylvania examining and performing comparison tests on recent studies that have claimed a deterrent effect to the death penalty.The Death Penalty Meets Social Science: Deterrence and Jury Behavior Under New Scrutiny

The Death Penalty Meets Social Science: Deterrence and Jury Behavior Under New Scrutiny (2005)
A study by Robert Weisberg, a professor at Stanford University's School of Law, examining recent studies on deterrence and the death penalty, as well as other social science research ragarding capital punishment in the U.S.

Public Policy Choices on Deterrence and the Death Penalty: A Critical Review of New Evidence (2005)
Analysis by Columbia Law School Professor Jeffrey Fagan of recent studies that claimed that capital punishment deters murders.

New Claims about Executions and General Deterrence: Deja Vu All Over Again? (2004)
A study conducted by Professor Richard Berk of the UCLA Department of Statistics identifying significant statistical problems with the data analysis used to support recent studies claiming to show that executions deter crime in the United States.


Innocence


Coping with Innocence After Death Row (2008)
A study by Professsors Saundra Westervelt and Kimberly Cook of the University of North Carolina examining the lives of 18 innocent men and women exonerated from death row. The unique research uncovers the difficulty the exonerees have had in adapting to life outside of prison without the process of “delabeling,” or recognition of their innocence by society.

Officials’ Estimates of the Incidence of ‘Actual Innocence’ Convictions (2008)
A study by Marvin Zalman, Brad Smith, and Angie Kiger of Wayne State University's Criminal Justice Department published in the Justice Quarterly on the frequency of wrongful convictions.

Dead Innocent: The Death Penalty Abolitionist Search for a Wrongful Execution (2006)
A study by J. Kirchmeier of CUNY School of Law examining whether or not an innocent person has been executed in the United States.

Convicting the Innocent: Aberration or Systemic Problem? (2005)
A study by Rodney Uphoff at University of Missouri School of Law of wrongful convictions.

Exonerations in the United States, 1989 through 2003 (2005)
A study by Samuel Gross published Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology examining false convictions.

How Mistaken and Perjured Eyewitness Identification Testimony Put 46 Innocent Americans on Death Row (2001) (See also:  Attachments A, B and C to the report)
A study by the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern Law School analyzing the cases of 86 death row exonerees and the reasons why innocent people are wrongly convicted in capital cases.


Mental Illness


Death Penalty and Mentally Ill Defendants (2010)
An article by Franklin J. Bordenave, MD and D. Clay Kelly, MD in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law discussing two cases in the state Supreme Courts of Florida and Georgia which address the issue of whether mental illness is a bar to execution.

Double Tragedies (2009)
A study by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights (MVFHR) addressing the question of whether people with severe mental illness should face the death penalty.

The Afterlife of Ford and Panetti: Execution Competence and the Capacity to Assist Counsel (2009)
A study by Christopher Seeds published in the Saint Louis University Law Journal of whether executing prisoners with severe mental illness who lack the capacity to assist counsel contravenes evolving standards of decency.

Mental Illness and the Death Penalty in North Carolina: A Diagnostic Approach (2007)
A study by the Charlotte School of Law on mental illness and the death penalty reveals that obstacles entrenched within the criminal justice system impede efforts to identify those with severe mental illness and treat them fairly.

Mental Health and Criminal Justice: An Overview (2007)
An article by Prof. Andrew E. Taslitz of mental illness and the justice system.

The Supreme Court’s Recent Criminal Mental Health Cases Rulings of Questionable Competence (2007)
An article by Christopher Slobogin of changes in criminal law in regards to mental illness from 2003 - 2007.

Prosecutor as “Nurse Ratched”?: Misusing Criminal Justice as Alternative Medicine (2007)
An article by Cook County (Illinois) state’s attorney, Gerald E. Nora of prosecutors as “diversionary gatekeepers”— seeking alternatives to trials and prison for those who more aptly belong in the medical arena.

The Promise of Mental Health Courts: Brooklyn Criminal Justice System Experiments with Treatment as an Alternative to Prison (2007)
An article by Judge Matthew J. D’Emic tracking the establishment of one of the country’s first courts to use diversionary treatment in dealing with mentally ill criminal defendants.

Executing the Mentally Ill: When Is Someone Sane Enough to Die? (2007)
An article by Michael Mello examining three high-profile cases involving mentally ill death row inmates.

Mental Health Status and Vulnerability to Police Interrogation Tactics (2007)
An article by William C. Follette, Deborah Davis, and Richard A. Leo offering a psychological explanation of how police interrogation methods affect the “average” person’s ability to understand and exert his or her Miranda rights and what makes the mentally ill so much more susceptible to police coercion and likely to falsely confess.

Death Row Delusions: When is a Prisoner Competent to Be Executed? (2007)
An article by Paul S. Applebaum published in Law and Psychiatry examining the case of Panetti v. Quarterman.

Mental Illness and Executions in Texas (2007)
Study conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has revealing that Texas is almost last among states in spending on mental health services and performs poorly in other mental health areas, while executing many inmates with serious mental illness.

Killing the Willing: 'Volunteers,' Suicide and Competency (2005)
Study by Professor John Blume of Cornell Law School examining the relationship between "volunteering" for execution and suicide.


Race


The Delaware Death Penalty: An Empirical Study (2012)
A five-year study of the operation of Delaware’s death penalty by Cornell law school.

Death Sentencing in East Baton Rouge Parish, 1990-2008 (2011)
A study conducted by Professors Glenn Pierce and Michael Radelet published in the Lousiana Law Review showing that the odds of a death sentence in parts of Louisiana were 2.6 times higher for those charged with killing a white victim than for those charged with killing a black victim.

Racial Bias Study (2010)
A study by Professors Michael Radelet and Glenn Pierce found that the odds of a defendant receiving a death sentence in North Carolina were three times higher if the person was convicted of killing a white person than if he had  killed a black person.

Racial Sentencing Patterns in Arkansas (2008)
A study by University of Iowa law professor David Baldus of the death penalty in Arkansas showing racial patterns in sentencing.

Death qualification and prejudice: The effect of implicit racism, sexism, and homophobia on capital defendants' right to due process (2008)
A study by Professor Brooke Butler of the University of South Florida in Sarasota on death qualification, the selection of jurors who are qualified to serve on a capital case because they are willing to sentence someone to death, revealing additional characteristics among such jurors.

Racial Disparities in the Capital of Capital Punishment (2008)
A study by Prof. Scott Phillips of the University of Denver exploring the relationship of race to death sentencing in Harris County (Houston), Texas.

A New Look at Race When Death Is Sought (2008)
A study by Professor Scott Phillips of the Univeristy of Denver found that black defendants in Houston, Texas, are more likely to be sentenced to death than white defendants, even when other variables are accounted for.

Tennessee Death Penalty Assessment (2007)
Study by the ABA detailing racial and geographic disparities in capital cases, poorly trained defense attorneys, heavy caseloads for those representing defedants, and inadequate procedures to address innocence claims.

Ohio Death Penalty Assessment Report (2007)
Study by the American Bar Association stating that Ohio's capital punishment system is so flawed that it should be suspended while the state conducts a thorough review of its fairness and accuracy.

Pennsylvania Death Penalty Assessment Report (2007)
Study by the American Bar Association (ABA) showing that flaws in Pennsylvania's death penalty system are so pervasive that the state risks executing an innocent person.

Arbitrariness in Death Cases (2007)
Study by Professor John Donohue of Yale University's School of Law of death sentences in Connecticut finding that seeking the death penalty often correlated with the race of the victim and the defendant, and not necessarily with the severity of the crimes.

Georgia Death Penalty Assessment Report (2006)
Study by the American Bar Association Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project found that Georgia's death penalty fails to meet 43 ABA standards for improving the fairness and accuracy of the death penalty.

The Effect of Race, Gender, and Location on Prosecutorial Decision to Seek the Death Penalty in South Carolina (2006)
Study of homicide cases in South Carolina by Professor Isaac Unah of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and attorney Michael Songer finding that prosecutors were more likely to seek the death penalty when the victim in the underlying murder was white, if the victim was female, and when the crime occurred in a rural area of the state.

The Impact of Legally Inappropriate Factors on Death Sentencing for California Homicides, 1990-1999 (2005)
A study by G. Pierce & M. Radelet published in the Santa Clara Law Review finding that the race of the victim in the underlying murder greatly affected whether a defendant would be sentenced to death.


Representation


Slamming the Courthouse Doors: Denial of Access to Justice and Remedy in America (2011)
A study by the American Civil Liberties Union showing that many states severely restrict access to justice for capital defendants and limit the availability of remedies to correct errors.

Kentucky Assessment on the Death Penalty (2011)
ABA study analyzing various laws, rules, procedures, standards, and guidelines relating to the administration of capital punishment in Kentucky.

 

Legal Disparities in the Capital of Capital Punishment (2009)
A study that reveals disparities in who receives the death penalty in Texas by Scott Phillips, a professor at the Department of Sociology and Criminology at the University of Denver.

Tennessee Death Penalty Assessment (2007)
Study by the ABA detailing racial and geographic disparities in capital cases, poorly trained defense attorneys, heavy caseloads for those representing defedants, and inadequate procedures to address innocence claims.

Pennsylvania Death Penalty Assessment Report (2007)
Study by the American Bar Association (ABA) showing that flaws in Pennsylvania's death penalty system are so pervasive that the state risks executing an innocent person.

Indiana Death Penalty Assessment (2007)
Study by the American Bar Association calling for a halt to executions in the state because of concerns about the arbitrariness of the state's death penalty.

 

Ohio Death Penalty Assessment Report (2007)
Study by the American Bar Association stating that Ohio's capital punishment system is so flawed that it should be suspended while the state conducts a thorough review of its fairness and accuracy.

Georgia Death Penalty Assessment Report (2006)
Study by the American Bar Association Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project found that Georgia's death penalty fails to meet 43 ABA standards for improving the fairness and accuracy of the death penalty.

Alabama Death Penalty Assessment (2006)
Study by the American Bar Association's Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project found that Alabama's death penalty failed to meet fundamental ABA standards of fairness and accuracy.

Arizona Death Penalty Assessment (2006)
Study by the American Bar Association's (ABA) Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project determining that Arizona's capital punishment laws are plagued with serious problems


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