Paper – Police, Race, and the Production of Capital Homicides

Fagan, Jeffrey and Geller, Amanda, Police, Race, and the Production of Capital Homicides (July 12, 2018). Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 14-593. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3202470 “Racial disparities in capital punishment have been well documented for decades. Over 50 studies have shown that Black defendants more likely than their white counterparts to be charged with capital-eligible crimes, to be convicted and sentenced to death. Racial disparities in charging and sentencing in capital-eligible homicides are the largest for the small number of cases where black defendants murder white victims compared to within-race killings, or where whites murder black or other ethnic minority victims. These patterns are robust to rich controls for non-racial characteristics and state sentencing guidelines. This article backs up the research on racial disparities to an earlier stage of capital case processing: the production of capital-eligible cases…

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