Capital Punishment: A New Perspective on Race and Ethnic Differences in Punishment and Death Sentence Outcomes: Empirical Analysis of Data on California, Florida and Texas, 1975-1985

Martin G. Urbina, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

A review of the existing literature on death sentence outcomes (DSO) shows evidence of differential treatment. Prior studies, however, have followed Caucasian/African American and/or execution/commutation approaches. Little is known about DSO for Latinos, whose experiences differ from those of African Americans and Caucasians, and little is known about other possible DSO: sentence declared unconstitutional, sentence overturned, and conviction overturned. Therefore, the objective of this study is to extend the analysis empirically by analyzing DSO data for California, Florida, and Texas between 1975 and 1995. In addition to race and ethnicity, this study also explores the effects of legal variables in DSO. Furthermore, in an attempt to enhance our understanding of race and ethnic differences in DSO, a theoretical typology of DSO is proposed. Logistic regression shows that disparities in death sentence dispositions are not a phenomenon of the past. The findings reveal that ethnicity and several legal variables still play a role in the legal decision-making process.

(Return to Program Resources)

Updated 05/20/2006