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Race and the decision to seek the death penalty in federal cases

Author: Stephen P Klein; Richard A Berk; Laura J Hickman
Publisher: Santa Monica, Calif. : Rand Corp., 2006.
Edition/Format:   eBook : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
This study examined the relationship between the federal government's decision to seek the death penalty in a case and that case's characteristics, including the defendant's and victim's races. This research began by identifying the types of data that would be appropriate and feasible to gather. Next, case characteristics were abstracted from Department of Justice Capital Case Unit (CCU) files. Defendant- and  Read more...
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Additional Physical Format: Klein, Stephen P., 1938-
Race and the decision to seek the death penalty in federal cases.
(OCoLC)84899440
Material Type: Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Stephen P Klein; Richard A Berk; Laura J Hickman
ISBN: 0833039660 9780833039668
OCLC Number: 70855476
Notes: "TR-389."
Title from PDF title screen (viewed August 8, 2006).
Description: xxiv, 183 pages : digital, PDF file
Details: Mode of access: World Wide Web.; System requirements: Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Contents: Introduction and Background --
Data collection methods --
Description of data on key variables --
A statistical analysis of charging decisions in death-eligible federal cases: 1995-2000 --
Supporting data for Klein, Freedman, and Bolus --
Race and the federal death penalty chapter --
The predictors used --
Charging decisions in death-eligible federal cases (1995-2000): arbitrariness, capriciousness, and regional variation --
Differences among defendants --
Summary of Findings and Conclusions --
Appendix A: About the authors --
Appendix B: Two advisory committees --
Appendix C: Capital-eligible offenses --
Appendix D: Coding forms and rules --
Appendix E: Training agenda --
Appendix F: Case summary form.
Responsibility: Stephen P. Klein, Richard A. Berk, Laura J. Hickman.

Abstract:

This study examined the relationship between the federal government's decision to seek the death penalty in a case and that case's characteristics, including the defendant's and victim's races. This research began by identifying the types of data that would be appropriate and feasible to gather. Next, case characteristics were abstracted from Department of Justice Capital Case Unit (CCU) files. Defendant- and victim-race data were obtained from electronic files. Finally, three independent teams used these data to investigate whether charging decisions were related to defendant or victim race. The teams also examined whether these decisions were related to case characteristics and geographic area. There are large race effects in the raw data that are of concern. However, all three teams found that controlling for nonracial case characteristics eliminated these effects, and that these characteristics could predict the seek decision with 85 to 90 percent accuracy. These findings support the view that decisions to seek the death penalty were driven by heinousness of crimes rather than by race. Nevertheless, these findings are not definitive because of the difficulties in determining causation from statistical modeling of observational data.

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