Understanding The Influence Of Victim Gender In Death Penalty Cases: The Importance Of Victim Race, Sex-Related Victimization, and Jury Decision Making

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jeff Holcomb Ph.D., Assistant Professor (Creator)
Marian Williams Ph.D., Assistant Professor (Creator)
Institution
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: http://www.library.appstate.edu/

Abstract: Using data from the Baldus, Woodworth, and Pulaski (1990) study of Georgia’s death penalty system, we examine the influence of victim gender in death penalty cases. Furthermore, to improve our understanding of the meaning of victim gender, we consider 1) the joint effects of victim gender and victim race, 2) victimization characteristics that might explain victim gender effects, and 3) the impact of victim gender at different decision-making stages in the death penalty case process. We find that both victim gender and race are associated with death sentencing outcomes and that an examination of the joint effects of victim gender and race reveals considerable differences in the likelihood of receiving a death sentence between the most disparate victim race–gender groups. In particular, it seems that black male victim cases are set apart from all others in terms of leniency afforded to defendants. We also show that the effect of victim gender is explained largely by gender differences in the sexual nature of some homicides. An examination of prosecutorial and jury decision making reveals that although victim gender has little impact on prosecutorial decisions, it has a meaningful impact on jury decisions.

Additional Information

Publication
Williams, M.R., Demuth, S., and Holcomb, J.E. (2007). Understanding the influence of victim gender in death penalty cases: The importance of victim race, sex-related victimization, and jury-decision-making. Criminology, 45, 865-892. DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.2007.00095.x Wiley-Blackwell. The definitive version is available at www3.interscience.wiley.com
Language: English
Date: 2007
Keywords
death penalty, race, gender, victims