The Death Penalty in Delaware: An Empirical Study

22 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2008  

John H. Blume III

Cornell Law School

Theodore Eisenberg

Cornell University, Law School (Deceased)

Sheri Lynn Johnson

Cornell Law School

Valerie P. Hans

Cornell University - School of Law

Date Written: August 6, 2008

Abstract

This article reports the findings of the first phase of a three phase empirical study of the death penalty in Delaware. In phase 1, we examined only cases in which the defendant was sentenced to death. While our findings are preliminary, there appear to be, as numerous other studies have found in other jurisdictions, race of victim effects. Seventy percent of the death sentences were imposed in white victim cases, even though the majority of the murder victims are black. Additionally, Delaware has one of the highest death sentencing rates in the country. This high rate appears to be the result of a change in the Delaware death sentencing scheme from jury to judge sentencing. When that change was implemented, the number of death sentences rose dramatically. Our preliminary findings also reveal a geographic effect. Two thirds of the death sentences were imposed in New Castle County, 29% were imposed in Kent County and only 5% of the death sentences resulted from murders which occurred in Sussex County. Finally, in analyzing the outcomes of the cases in which the defendant was sentenced to death on appeal, we found an overall error rate of 44%.

Suggested Citation

Blume, John H. and Eisenberg, Theodore and Johnson, Sheri Lynn and Hans, Valerie P., The Death Penalty in Delaware: An Empirical Study (August 6, 2008). Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-025; 3rd Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Papers. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1207882 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1207882

John H. Blume III (Contact Author)

Cornell Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States

Theodore Eisenberg

Cornell University, Law School (Deceased) ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States

Sheri Lynn Johnson

Cornell Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States
607-255-6478 (Phone)
607-255-7193 (Fax)

Valerie P. Hans

Cornell University - School of Law ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States
607-255-0095 (Phone)

Paper statistics

Downloads
233
Rank
108,901
Abstract Views
2,086