Thesis: Decision-making practices of capital juries

Sample Thesis Paper

The executioner’s work has been interrupted on various occasions in this country since the mid-1960s. Government officials have not sat idly during these enforced periods of inactivity in their execution chambers. Rather, they have busily rewritten capital punishment laws and, more recently, engaged in studies designed to investigate select issues, including actual innocence, ineffective counsel, and race partiality while applying death penalty.

The issues should include the marquis ones involving innocence, defense counsel, and race, but should go beyond those as well. We have identified several additional matters appropriate for investigation, including appellate and post conviction judicial assessment of assets assurances and verdicts; clemency decisions; the economic expenditure of the death sentence; the reasons in support of and the consequences of long-term death row confinement of condemned prisoners; deterrence; the future dangerousness of convicted murderers; the selection and decision-making practices of capital juries, including the role of judicial instructions; prosecutorial charging discretion and misconduct; the statutory exclusion of certain categories of offenders from death penalty eligibility, including juveniles; the available sentencing alternatives to the death penalty, including LWOP and the meaning of life sentences; and the impact of capital punishment on innocent victims, including the relatives of both homicide victims and condemned offenders.

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