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Looking Across the Empathic Divide: Racialized Decision Making on the Capital Jury

36 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2012 Last revised: 8 Aug 2012

Mona Lynch

University of California, Irvine - Department of Criminology, Law and Society

Craig Haney

University of California, Santa Cruz - Department of Psychology

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Lynch, Mona and Haney, Craig, Looking Across the Empathic Divide: Racialized Decision Making on the Capital Jury (2011). Michigan State Law Review, Vol. 2011, p. 573, 2011; UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2012-63. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2091956

Mona Lynch (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine - Department of Criminology, Law and Society ( email )

2340 Social Ecology 2, RM
Irvine, CA 92697
United States

Craig Haney

University of California, Santa Cruz - Department of Psychology ( email )

273 Social Sciences 2
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
United States

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