Looking Across the Empathic Divide: Racialized Decision Making on the Capital Jury
36 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2012 Last revised: 8 Aug 2012
Date Written: 2011
This article examines the problem of racial bias in capital cases generally and its operation within capital juries in particular. We provide a brief summary of the empirical research that demonstrates how juror demographics and defendant race interact to produce race-based death sentencing. We then explore some of the psychological dynamics that are at the core of discriminatory death sentencing by capital jurors, particularly the tendency of White jurors to more often sentence Black defendants to death. We then examine some of legal approaches that have been used to address this problem in the past, as well as the evidence of how and why they have fallen short of doing so. We conclude by proposing a set of reforms that focus more precisely on the core psychological issues that we believe are at the heart of this problem of racially biased capital jury sentencing.
Keywords: death penalty, race, jury, decision-making
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