Race, Place, and Capital Charging in Georgia
18 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2016 Last revised: 14 Oct 2020
Date Written: 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court has identified three types of constitutionally impermissible errors in the administration of capital punishment: arbitrariness, discrimination, and disproportionality. In this essay, I describe an empirically-anchored analytical framework for defining, identifying, and measuring these concepts. I then illustrate the usefulness of the framework by examining prosecutors' death penalty charging decisions in Georgia over an eight-year period. The results strongly suggest that prosecutorial decision-making in Georgia continues to be plagued by the very errors that led the Court to invalidate Georgia's capital punishment system forty years ago.
Keywords: capital punishment, death penalty, criminal law, criminal procedure
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