Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die?

Posted: 15 Sep 2004

See all articles by Laura M. Argys

Laura M. Argys

University of Colorado at Denver - Department of Economics

Naci H. Mocan

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Abstract

Using data on the entire population of prisoners under a sentence of death in the U.S. between 1977 and 1997, this paper investigates the probability of transition from death row to various possible outcomes (execution, death by other causes, commutation and overturned sentence or conviction) in any given year, as well as the probability of commutation when reaching the end of death row. The analyses control for personal characteristics and previous criminal record of the death row inmates, and a number of characteristics of the state where the inmate is in custody, including variables that measure the degree to which the political process enters into the final outcome in a death penalty case. The results show that who lives and who dies on death row depends on the race and gender of the inmate, the race and political affiliation of the governor and whether the governor is a lame duck.

Suggested Citation

Argys, Laura M. and Mocan, Naci H., Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die?. Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 33, p. 255, 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=590284

Laura M. Argys (Contact Author)

University of Colorado at Denver - Department of Economics ( email )

Campus Box 181
P.O. Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364
United States
303-556-3547 (Fax)

Naci H. Mocan

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge - Department of Economics ( email )

Department of economics
Baton Rouge, LA 70803-6308
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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