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Thomas J. Keil ; Gennaro F. Vito
Capriciousness or Fairness?: Race and Prosecutorial Decisions To Seek the Death Penalty in Kentucky
Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice Volume:4 Issue:3 Dated:2006 Pages:27 to 49
Using an analytical method developed by Berk et al., this study examined the level of capriciousness (uncertainty) in prosecutorial decisions to seek the death penalty in Kentucky. In the overall population and in the various subgroups examined, prosecutorial decisions to seek the death penalty were more random than systematic. This randomness was inherent in the way capital-punishment decisions were made in Kentucky, irrespective of the race of the killer and/or race of the victim; however, capriciousness was higher for White murder defendants than Black murder defendants. When Kentucky prosecutors decided to proceed with capital charges when the victim was White, they were most likely to do so when the murder defendant was Black. When they prosecuted capital cases that involved Black defendants and White victims, these cases were far more homogeneous in their legal and extra-legal characteristics than the cases that involved White defendants and White victims. Given the level of randomness in prosecutorial decisions seeking capital punishment for all case combinations of defendants' and victims' race, these findings suggest that the individualized justice favored by the U.S. Supreme Court is a legal fiction or, at a minimum, an approximation. This study used the research method employed by Bert et al. in their estimation of the degree of capriciousness in the San Francisco capital sentencing charging system. In their model, the inputs were characteristics of the offender and the crime. The output was the prosecutors' decision to seek the death penalty. In the current study, the analysis focused on the extent of capriciousness in the prosecutor's decision to seek the death penalty for all possible murders that met the Kentucky legal requirement for the death penalty. 3 tables and 39 references.
Augustine J. Kposowa ; Glenn T. Tsunokai ; James P. McElvain
Race and Homicide in the U.S. National Longitudinal Mortality Study
Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice Volume:4 Issue:1/2 Dated:2006 Pages:1 to 27
This study identified the magnitude of the homicide problem by describing long-term national trends and examined the effect of being Black on the risk of homicide, as well as whether the influence of race was diminished by controlling for measures of economic/social disadvantage. Generally, findings support the argument that socioeconomic disadvantage increases the risk for homicide victimization, in that low income, poor education, and unemployment has increased the risk for homicide victimization. The link between low income and homicide victimization, however, has proven to be stronger among Whites compared to Blacks. Although low educational attainment significantly increased the risk of homicide among Whites, no such significant association was observed among Blacks. Living in an inner city was a strong predictor of risk for homicide, regardless of race. This finding further supports the influence of disadvantage on risk of homicide, since urban residents are more likely to be disadvantaged. These findings suggest that strategies for reducing homicides should target factors that contribute to social and economic inequality and unemployment. Homicide in America has shown an upward trend since 1900, but with significant declines between 1940 and 1970. Rates increased sharply after 1970, reaching a peak in 1981 and then increasing again after 1989 and peaking for the second time in 1993. Since 1994, homicide rates have generally declined, with the exception of a sharp increase in 2001. Since 1994, the African-American male homicide rate has been declining, although it remains considerably higher than the rate of other race and gender groups. The homicide trend analysis used National Vital Statistics. The analysis of covariate effects used data from the U.S. National Longitudinal Mortality Study. 4 tables and 47 references
Interpreting "Percent Black:" An Analysis of Race and Violent Crime in Washington, DC
Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice Volume:4 Issue:1/2 Dated:2006 Pages:29 to 63
The average violent crime rate in the District of Columbia from 1960 through 1999 was 1,722 violent crimes per 100,000 population. The average percentage of the District-of-Columbia population that was African-American during this period was 68.5 percent, ranging between a low of 54.8 percent in 1960 and a high of 77.5 percent in 1975. Although increases in "percent Black" paralleled increases in violent crime in the District in the 1960s, and decreases in "percent Black" have paralleled decreases in violent crime to a small degree in recent years, the smooth and declining trend in the African-American population since 1975 contrasts with dramatic peaks and valleys in the District's violent crime during that time. The findings suggest that year-to-year changes in "percent Black" are not related to year-to-year changes in violent crime except in a model that includes all the relevant variables simultaneously. Any positive relationship between violent crime and "percent Black" over time is not robust when disaggregated by race and crime type; and it may be limited to Black robbery offending. Further, apparently "percent Black" may be acting as a proxy for other social problems. An exploration of possible correlates of racial disparity in arrests for violent crime suggests they are associated with a variety of factors, including social problems and their varying characteristics. The study used a longitudinal analysis of annual, time series data in order to examine the relationship between changes in the percentage of the population composed of African-Americans and the violent crime rate. 6 tables, 4 figures, and 96 references
Eric G. Lambert ; Lois A. Ventura ; David N. Baker ; Morris Jenkins
Drug Views: Does Race Matter?
Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice Volume:4 Issue:1/2 Dated:2006 Pages:93 to 111
This study examined whether race was a factor in how drug use and the societal response to it were viewed among a sample of 611 students at a midwestern university. The findings indicate that race was a factor in how drug use was viewed by the students and their preferred societal response o it. White students were more likely than non-White students to view drugs as a pressing social issue. White students tended to view drug use as a character weakness that warrants punitive action in a criminal justice venue. In contrast, non-White students were more likely to view drug abuse as stemming from an emotional disorder that requires treatment as a response. Non-White students were more likely than White students to be tolerant toward marijuana use and to support its legalization. Both White and non-White students were likely to view alcoholic beverages as dangerous drugs. Race as a factor in views toward the drug issue remained statistically significant in multivariate analysis after controlling for age, academic standing, political affiliation, and religiosity. In the spring of 2002, undergraduate students in 20 academic courses at a midwestern public university were surveyed under a systematic convenience sampling design. The selected course involved a wide variety of majors and included general education classes required by all majors at the university. A total of 611 usable surveys were returned. Eighteen percent of the respondents were Black, 4 percent were Hispanic, 70 percent were White, and 8 percent were of other races. Approximately 54 percent were women. The median age was 21. The 10 questions on drug views were the dependent variables. Control variables were academic level, party affiliation, importance of religion, and attendance at religious programs. 3 tables and 38 references