Victim-Based Disparity and Death Sentences: A Specification of Previous Findings

Marian R. Williams, Bowling Green State University
Jefferson E. Holcomb, Bowling Green State University

Several death penalty studies have examined whether victim race is associated with differential death sentencing outcomes; however, these studies tend to ignore the potential interaction effect of victim race and victim gender on decision-making outcomes. This article examined the impact of victim race and gender on death sentences in Ohio. When victim race and gender were considered only those homicides with white female victims were significantly associated with a death sentence. This finding expands on previous research by identifying a specific victim gender-race combination, white female victim, as a key extra-legal factor that may increase the probability of an offender receiving a death sentence and may partioally explain prior victim race disparity findings.

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Updated 05/20/2006