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Factors in Death Sentencing

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In this week's NCJRS Weekly Accessions List, we find a study that appears to be good news, at least from the abstract (emphasis added):

In the Poisson models for the full sample, several criminal-career variables were significantly associated with subsequent death sentences. These variables included an early onset of antisocial behavior as measured by juvenile arrests and prior rape, robbery, and molestation offending. In both models, which focused on separate instant offenses and the violent and property offenses, prior prison sentences predicted subsequent death sentences. These findings suggest that violent, recidivistic offenders who are routinely incarcerated throughout their life course might be sentenced to death for a capital offense. This pattern is consistent with the behavioral continuity that is a cardinal feature of criminal careers research. The number of murdered victims significantly predicted death sentences, which supports prior research that found multiple homicide victims was the strongest predictor of receiving a death sentence. An offender's race had no predictive effect on death sentences in the current sample; however, the coupling of criminal career information and race-dyad effects is an important issue for future research.

The study is Monic P. Behnken, Jonathan W. Caudill, Mark T. Berg, Chad R. Trulson, Matt DeLisi, Marked for Death: An Empirical Criminal Careers Analysis of Death Sentences in a Sample of Convicted Male Homicide Offenders, Journal of Criminal Justice Volume:39 Issue:6 Dated:November/December 2011 Pages:471 to 478.

So murderers are sentenced to death or not depending on how many people they kill and what crimes they have committed before, not depending on their race.  That is exactly how it should be.  That last part has to be hedged, of course, to allow for the possibility of a strained race-based argument in the future.

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"A lie told often enough becomes the truth." ~~Vladimir Lenin

Ron Paul, 1/16/12:
“Definitely…It's not that it is my opinion, it is very clear. Blacks and minorities who are involved with drugs, are arrested disproportionately…tried and imprisoned disproportionately…[& get] the death penalty disproportionately. Rich white people don't get the death penalty very often."

Ben Jealous (NAACP), 1/9/12:
“As Troy [Davis]’s case demonstrated, there are enormous flaws in how the death penalty is sought and racial disparities are rife in its application.”

Gerald Stansbury (NAACP-Maryland President), 1/9/12:
“Racial bias continues to infect the Maryland death penalty system.”

Ben Jealous (NAACP), 11/21/11:
"The knowledge that [it's] almost always gonna be a poor person and usually a black or brown person makes our concern that much more personal,”
{"NAACP leader wants death penalty repealed in Connecticut | WTNH ...
Jealous who says nationwide the legal system and the death penalty are
biased against minorities."}

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