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Columbia Law School

Criminal Law

2000

Columbia Law Review

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Full-Text Articles in Law

The Overproduction Of Death, James S. Liebman Jan 2000

The Overproduction Of Death, James S. Liebman

Faculty Scholarship

In this Article, Professor Liebman concludes that trial actors have strong incentives to – and do – overproduce death sentences, condemning to death men and women who, under state substantive law, do not deserve that penalty. Because trial-level procedural rights do not weaken these incentives or constrain the overproduction that results, it falls to post-trial procedural review – which is ill-suited to the task and fails to feed back needed information to the trial level – to identify the many substantive mistakes made at capital trials. This system is difficult to reform because it benefits both pro-death penalty trial actors (who generate more death ...