The Interaction Between Victim Race and Gender on Capital Sentencing Outcomes in North Carolina

Amy Reckdenwald, University of Florida

The study is an exploration and extension of previous research on the interactive effects of victim race and gender on death sentence outcomes in Ohio (Williams & Holcomb, 2004) to see if Williams and Holcomb's results can be corroborated. Williams and Holcomb's study suggests that an interactive effect exists between victim-race and victim-gender in Ohio death sentencing outcomes, such that a killer of white women are especially singled out for capital punishment. The current study restricts the analysis to death eligible cases at the trial level in North Carolina to determine if Williams and Holcomb's findings hold up at a different level of case processing and in a different state. Results are reported based on a sample of North Carolina first-degree murder cases where the state sought the death penalty. Logistic regression is used to determine if there are direct and/or interative effects of victim's race and victim's gender on capital sentencing outcomes, controlling for the variety of other factors that influence that decision. Results suggest that interactive effects do not exist in North Carolina at the sentencing/penalty processing phase of capital trials. Results are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006