Predictors of Miscarriages of Justice in Capital Cases

Talia Roitberg Harmon, Niagara University

Prior research on wrongful convictions in capital cases has focused primarily on qualitative methods designed to provide in-depth descriptive analyses of these cases. In contrast, this study involves a quantitative comparison between seventy-six documented cases from 1970-1998 in which prisoners were released from death row because of "doubts about their guilt" and inmates who were executed. Through the utilization of a logistic regression model, significant predictors of cases that result in a release from death row as opposed to an execution were identified. The final section of this study focuses on policy implications that may decrease the risk of error in capital cases. Additional research is suggested in an effort to increase understanding of the problem of miscarriages of justice in capital cases.

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Updated 05/20/2006