An Empirical Evaluation of the Connecticut Death Penalty System Since 1973

An Empirical Evaluation of the Connecticut Death Penalty System Since 1973: Are There Unlawful Racial, Gender, and Geographic Disparities?

This article analyzes the 205 death-eligible murders leading to homicide convictions in Connecticut from 1973–2007 to determine if discriminatory and arbitrary factors influenced capital outcomes. A regression analysis controlling for an array of legitimate factors relevant to the crime, defendant, and victim provides overwhelming evidence that minority defendants who kill white victims are capitally charged at substantially higher rates than minority defendants who kill minorities, that geography influences both capital charging and sentencing decisions (with the location of a crime in Waterbury being the single most potent influence on which death-eligible cases will lead to a sentence of death), and that the Connecticut death penalty system has not limited its application to the worst of the worst death-eligible defendants.

John J. Donohue III, Stanford University, has been one of the leading empirical researchers in the legal academy over the past 25 years. Professor Donohue is an economist as well as a lawyer and is well known for using empirical analysis to determine the impact of law and public policy in a wide range of areas, including civil rights and antidiscrimination law, employment discrimination, crime and criminal justice, and school funding. Professor Donohue previously was a member of the law school faculty from 1995–2004.

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