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Table 28.1 Minority-Accused Disparities in the Outcomes of Capital Sentencing Hearings


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Unadjusted Disparities

Adjusted Disparities(applying alternate measures of culpability)

Nonracial Case Characteristics in a Logistic Regression Analysis1

Five-Level Race-Purged Regression Based Culpability Scale

Six-Level Salient Factors Based Culpability Scale

a. Minority Accused 71% (10/14) 44% 59% 56%

b. White Accused 31% (5/16) 26% 42% 35%

c. Disparity (Row a. − Row b.)

40 pts.* 18 pts. 17 pts. 21 pts.

d. Relative Risk (Row a. / Row b.)

2.3 1.4 1.4 1.6

Level of signifi cance of disparity: * = .10

1 When this analysis is limited to the three nonracial variables in the Column D analysis that had a relationship to the death sentencing outcomes that was statistically signifi cant beyond the .10 level, the minority-accused effect is 14-points, with a 3.0 odds multiplier, signifi cant at the .39 level.



Catherine M. Grosso


Civilian Crimes in a Military Death Penalty System

A different concern about the administration of capital punishment in the military relates to the extent to which the dual and dueling roles of discipline and justice play out in charging and sentenc- ing decisions. As noted earlier, the military law on capital punishment combines military and civilian concerns in many respects, but when it comes to premeditated and felony murder the statute closely resembles civilian state law. The question here is whether the administration of the military death pen- alty follows the civilian model contemplated by military law or whether practice has, in fact, imposed a gloss on the law that nullifi es the apparent civilianizing infl uence.

The limitation of jurisdiction to military crimes followed naturally from the perception that the main function of courts martial jurisdiction, including its most severe punishments, was to maintain military discipline, control, and authority. This rationale was hard to defend when in 1950, military courts martial jurisdiction, including the use of the death penalty, was expanded to cover both military and civilian murders committed anywhere in the world during both war and peace. Consequently the vast bulk of murders committed by military personnel and adjudicated in military courts have no military implications and little relevance to the courts martial goal of maintaining military discipline, control, and authority. Highly aggravated homicides with signifi cant military implications comprise only a small proportion of death-eligible military murders that have been committed since 1950 and more specifi cally since 1984.

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