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Victim Gender and the Death Penalty

40 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2014 Last revised: 10 Nov 2015

Caisa E. Royer

Cornell University, College of Human Ecology, Law, Psychology and Human Development Program, Students

Amelia Courtney Hritz

Cornell University, College of Human Ecology, Law, Psychology and Human Development Program, Students

Valerie P. Hans

Cornell University - School of Law

Theodore Eisenberg

Cornell University, Law School (Deceased)

Martin T. Wells

Cornell University - Law School

John H. Blume III

Cornell Law School

Sheri Lynn Johnson

Cornell Law School

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

Previous research suggests that cases involving female victims are more likely to result in death sentences. The current study examines possible reasons for this relationship using capital punishment data from the state of Delaware. Death was sought much more for murders of either male or female white victims compared to murders of black male victims. Analyzing capital sentencing hearings in Delaware from 1977-2007 decided by judges or juries, we found that both characteristics of the victims and characteristics of the murders differentiated male and female victim cases. The presence of sexual victimization, the method of killing, the relationship between the victim and the defendant, and whether or not the victim had family responsibilities all predicted the likelihood of a death sentence and help to explain why cases with female victims are more likely to be punished with a death sentence.

Suggested Citation

Royer, Caisa E. and Hritz, Amelia Courtney and Hans, Valerie P. and Eisenberg, Theodore and Wells, Martin T. and Blume, John H. and Johnson, Sheri Lynn, Victim Gender and the Death Penalty (2014). University of Missouri-Kansas City Law Review, Vol. 82, No. 2, 2014; Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-05. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2402355

Caisa E. Royer (Contact Author)

Cornell University, College of Human Ecology, Law, Psychology and Human Development Program, Students ( email )

Ithaca, NY
United States

Amelia Courtney Hritz

Cornell University, College of Human Ecology, Law, Psychology and Human Development Program, Students ( email )

Ithaca, NY
United States

Valerie P. Hans

Cornell University - School of Law ( email )

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

Theodore Eisenberg

Cornell University, Law School (Deceased) ( email )

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

Martin T. Wells

Cornell University - Law School ( email )

Comstock Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-8801 (Phone)

John H. Blume III

Cornell Law School ( 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)

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