Too Late for Luck: An Analysis of Post-Furman Executions 'Despite Doubts About Their Guilt'

Talia Harmon, Niagara University
William S. Lofquist, SUNY College at Geneseo

ABSTRACT
This study will examine twenty executions nationwide from 1972-2000 that involved compelling claims of innocence. Narratives will provide a rich, descriptive, objective account of these cases as well as insiders' opinions about the causes of the "wrongful convictions and executions" and the evidence used to support these claims. The second component of this study will be a quantitative analysis. It will consist of a systematic examination of the pivotal factors that may lead to an overturned conviction and subsequent release from death row. This section will focus on hypothesis testing relating to factors that may increase the likelihood of a case resulting in a reversal as opposed to an execution. In order to test these hypotheses, a comparison group of eighty documented cases from 1972-2000 in which prisoners were released from death rows because of "doubts about their guilt" will be utilized. This comparison will permit a systematic examination of the differences between cases that result in a release from death row and those that result in an execution. By analyzing the significant factors that may affect the outcome of the judicial review process, important insights into the dynamics of this process can be achieved.

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Updated 05/20/2006