Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Law Commons

Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Articles 1 - 13 of 13

Full-Text Articles in Law

Virtual Life Sentences: An Exploratory Study, Jessica S. Henry, Christopher Salvatore, Bai-Eyse Pugh Dec 2018

Virtual Life Sentences: An Exploratory Study, Jessica S. Henry, Christopher Salvatore, Bai-Eyse Pugh

Jessica S. Henry

Virtual life sentences are sentences with a term of years that exceed an individual’s natural life expectancy. This exploratory study is one of the first to collect data that establish the existence, prevalence, and scope of virtual life sentences in state prisons in the United States. Initial data reveal that more than 31,000 people in 26 states are serving virtual life sentences for violent and nonviolent offenses, and suggest racial disparities in the distribution of these sentences. This study also presents potential policy implications and suggestions for future research.


An Examination Of The Death Penalty, Alexandra N. Kremer Dec 2018

An Examination Of The Death Penalty, Alexandra N. Kremer

The Downtown Review

The death penalty, or capital punishment, is the use of execution through hanging, beheading, drowning, gas chambers, lethal injection, and electrocution among others in response to a crime. This has spurred much debate on whether it should be used for reasons such as ethics, revenge, economics, effectiveness as a deterrent, and constitutionality. Capital punishment has roots that date back to the 18th century B.C., but, as of 2016, has been abolished in law or practice by more than two thirds of the world’s countries and several states within the United States. Here, the arguments for and against ...


Mccleskey V. Kemp: Field Notes From 1977-1991, John Charles Boger Jun 2018

Mccleskey V. Kemp: Field Notes From 1977-1991, John Charles Boger

Northwestern University Law Review

The litigation campaign that led to McCleskey v. Kemp did not begin as an anti-death-penalty effort. It grew in soil long washed in the blood of African-Americans, lynched or executed following rude semblances of trials and hasty appeals, which had prompted the NAACP from its very founding to demand “simple justice” in individual criminal cases. When the Warren Court signaled, in the early 1960s, that it might be open to reflection on broader patterns of racial discrimination in capital sentencing, the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) began to gather empirical evidence and craft appropriate constitutional responses. As that effort built, other deficiencies in state capital states became apparent, and LDF eventually asserted a broader constitutional critique of state capital structures and processes. By 1967, LDF and its allies had developed a nationwide “moratorium” campaign that challenged death sentencing statutes in virtually every state.

Though the campaign appeared poised for partial success in 1969, changes in Court personnel and shifts in the nation’s mood dashed LDF’s initial hopes. Yet unexpectedly, in 1972, five Justices ruled in Furman v. Georgia that all death sentences and all capital statutes nationwide would fall under the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments. Each of the nine Furman Justices wrote separately, without a single governing rationale beyond their expressed uneasiness that the death penalty was being imposed infrequently, capriciously, and in an arbitrary manner. Thirty-five states promptly enacted new and revised capital statutes. Four years later, a majority of the Court held that three of those new state statutes met Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment standards. The 1976 Court majority expressed confidence that the states’ newly revised procedures should work to curb the arbitrariness and capriciousness that had earlier troubled the Furman majority.

The McCleskey case emerged from subsequent review of post-Furman sentencing patterns in the State of Georgia. A brilliant and exhaustive study by Professor David Baldus and his colleagues demonstrated that the Court’s assumptions in 1976 were wrong; strong racial disparities in capital sentencing continued to persist statewide in Georgia—especially in cases in ...


Death In America Under Color Of Law: Our Long, Inglorious Experience With Capital Punishment, Rob Warden, Daniel Lennard May 2018

Death In America Under Color Of Law: Our Long, Inglorious Experience With Capital Punishment, Rob Warden, Daniel Lennard

Northwestern Journal of Law & Social Policy

No abstract provided.


The Concept Of “Unusual Punishments” In Anglo-American Law: The Death Penalty As Arbitrary, Discriminatory, And Cruel And Unusual, John D. Bessler May 2018

The Concept Of “Unusual Punishments” In Anglo-American Law: The Death Penalty As Arbitrary, Discriminatory, And Cruel And Unusual, John D. Bessler

Northwestern Journal of Law & Social Policy

The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, like the English Bill of Rights before it, safeguards against the infliction of “cruel and unusual punishments.” To better understand the meaning of that provision, this Article explores the concept of “unusual punishments” and its opposite, “usual punishments.” In particular, this Article traces the use of the “usual” and “unusual” punishments terminology in Anglo-American sources to shed new light on the Eighth Amendment’s Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause. The Article surveys historical references to “usual” and “unusual” punishments in early English and American texts, then analyzes the development of American constitutional ...


Virtual Life Sentences: An Exploratory Study, Jessica S. Henry, Christopher Salvatore, Bai-Eyse Pugh Apr 2018

Virtual Life Sentences: An Exploratory Study, Jessica S. Henry, Christopher Salvatore, Bai-Eyse Pugh

Department of Justice Studies Faculty Scholarship and Creative Works

Virtual life sentences are sentences with a term of years that exceed an individual’s natural life expectancy. This exploratory study is one of the first to collect data that establish the existence, prevalence, and scope of virtual life sentences in state prisons in the United States. Initial data reveal that more than 31,000 people in 26 states are serving virtual life sentences for violent and nonviolent offenses, and suggest racial disparities in the distribution of these sentences. This study also presents potential policy implications and suggestions for future research.


Dissecting The Aba Texas Capital Punishment Assessment Report Of 2013: Death And Texas, A Surprising Improvement, Patrick S. Metze Feb 2018

Dissecting The Aba Texas Capital Punishment Assessment Report Of 2013: Death And Texas, A Surprising Improvement, Patrick S. Metze

Akron Law Review

Professor Metze dissects the American Bar Association report, September 2013, entitled Evaluating Fairness and Accuracy in State Death Penalty Systems: The Texas Capital Punishment Assessment Report—An Analysis of Texas’s Death Penalty Laws, Procedures and Practices. This Report was produced by the ABA’s Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, specifically the Death Penalty Due Process Review Project, which identified 12 inadequacies in the Texas Capital Punishment System, recommended changes, and evaluated compliance. Now, four years and two legislative sessions later, this Article explores what Texas has done in the interim to improve its death penalty process. Incredibly, the ...


The Death Penalty As Incapacitation, Marah S. Mcleod Jan 2018

The Death Penalty As Incapacitation, Marah S. Mcleod

Journal Articles

Courts and commentators give scant attention to the incapacitation rationale for capital punishment, focusing instead on retribution and deterrence. The idea that execution may be justified to prevent further violence by dangerous prisoners is often ignored in death penalty commentary. The view on the ground could not be more different. Hundreds of executions have been premised on the need to protect society from dangerous offenders. Two states require a finding of future dangerousness for any death sentence, and over a dozen others treat it as an aggravating factor that turns murder into a capital crime.

How can courts and commentators ...


Deterrence, David Crump Jan 2018

Deterrence, David Crump

St. Mary's Law Journal

Abstract forthcoming


Equal Protection Under The Carceral State, Aya Gruber Jan 2018

Equal Protection Under The Carceral State, Aya Gruber

Articles

McCleskey v. Kemp, the case that upheld the death penalty despite undeniable evidence of its racially disparate impact, is indelibly marked by Justice William Brennan’s phrase, “a fear of too much justice.” The popular interpretation of this phrase is that the Supreme Court harbored what I call a “disparity-claim fear,” dreading a future docket of racial discrimination claims and erecting an impossibly high bar for proving an equal protection violation. A related interpretation is that the majority had a “color-consciousness fear” of remedying discrimination through race-remedial policies. In contrast to these conventional views, I argue that the primary anxiety ...


Police, Race, And The Production Of Capital Homicides, Jeffrey A. Fagan, Amanda Geller Jan 2018

Police, Race, And The Production Of Capital Homicides, Jeffrey A. Fagan, Amanda Geller

Faculty Scholarship

Racial disparities in capital punishment have been well documented for decades. Over 50 studies have shown that Black defendants more likely than their white counterparts to be charged with capital-eligible crimes, to be convicted and sentenced to death. Racial disparities in charging and sentencing in capital-eligible homicides are the largest for the small number of cases where black defendants murder white victims compared to within-race killings, or where whites murder black or other ethnic minority victims. These patterns are robust to rich controls for non-racial characteristics and state sentencing guidelines. This article backs up the research on racial disparities to ...


Whether The Bright-Line Cut-Off Rule And The Adversarial Expert Explanation Of Adaptive Functioning Exacerbates Capital Juror Comprehension Of The Intellectual Disability, Leona Deborah Jochnowitz Jan 2018

Whether The Bright-Line Cut-Off Rule And The Adversarial Expert Explanation Of Adaptive Functioning Exacerbates Capital Juror Comprehension Of The Intellectual Disability, Leona Deborah Jochnowitz

Touro Law Review

No abstract provided.


Convictions Of Innocent People With Intellectual Disability, Sheri Johnson, John H. Blume, Amelia Courtney Hritz Jan 2018

Convictions Of Innocent People With Intellectual Disability, Sheri Johnson, John H. Blume, Amelia Courtney Hritz

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

In Atkins v. Virginia, the Supreme Court held that executing individuals with intellectual disability violates the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the Eighth Amendment. In addition to concerns over culpability and deterrence, the Court’s judgment in Atkins was informed by the heightened “risk of wrongful execution” faced by persons with intellectual disability. This essay explores that question both anecdotally and quantitatively, hoping to illuminate the causes of wrongful conviction of persons with intellectual disability. We provide examples from our experiences in the Cornell Death Penalty Clinic and cases brought to our attention by defense attorneys. We also present ...