Legal Psychology (final review)
Terms in this set (149)
Why should there be a Psychology-Law alliance?
-the legal context informs our understanding of human behavior
-legal concerns inspire psychological research
*psychological research can inform the legal system in ways that enhance the "justice seeking" function of the legal system
-many questions addressed are inherently psychological
-getting life-altering legal decisions correct is essential
Brief history of legal psychology
-1843: Daniel McNaughton found not guilty by reason of insanity; nine experts testify
-1906: Sigmund Freud suggests to Austrian judges that psychology has important applications in law
-1908: Muller v. Oregon, Louis Brandeis submits a brief that includes "research" on working hours for women
-1908: Hugo Munsterberg: On the Witness Stand
-1909: John Wigmore: Professor Munsterberg and the Psychology of Testimony
Brief history of legal psychology
-1954: Brown v. Board of Education cites "Social Science Brief" on segregation-relevant research
-1966: The American Jury (Kalven & Zeisel) is published
-1969: American Psychology-Law Society (AP-LS) founded
-1971: NSF program in Law and Social Science founded
-1974: First joint JD/PhD program founded (UNL)
-1977: Law and Human Behavior begins publication
-1981: APA's Div. 41 (Psychology and Law) founded
-1984: AP-LS and Div. 41 merge
Roles of psychologists in the legal system
*social fact (psychology in law): facts of a particular case
-ex: expert testimony, jury selection, forensic evaluations
*social framework (psychology and law): describe general psychological principles relevant to a case
-ex: police line up bias, prejudicial effect of death qualification
*social authority (psychology of law): uses research to choose, create or change a legal rule
-ex: lobby legislature and policy-makers, judicial amicus brief
Famous criminal profiles
-Jack the Ripper
-The Olympic Bomber
-The Mad Bomber
What does research tell us about profiling?
-Pinizzotto & Finkel (1990): Profilers were significantly more accurate - but only for the sex offense case
-Kocsis and colleagues: Profilers were more accurate in terms of identifying the
physical attributes of the murderer BUT profilers were less accurate at identifying the thought process, social habits and personal history
-Mokros and Alison (2002): are similar crimes committed by similar people?...NO...at least for serial rape, there was no relationship between
the demographics of the criminals and the characteristics of the
Problems with criminal profiling
-Basic assumptions not validated
*Crime scenes not reliably associated with personality type
*Vague abilities such as "instinct" or "intuition"
-Cross-situational consistency is suspect
*Context matters...human behavior is influenced by situations
-Ambiguous and general speculations
*May be vague, difficult to verify/investigate, open to
-Profiles may result in tunnel vision - focus may be diverted from plausible suspects who do not fit the profile
-Profiles sometimes based on stereotypes - racial profiling
-criminal spatial mapping
-often stay in geographical comfort zone
-Statistical techniques used to uncover patterns in movement and environment
-As number of crimes increase so does usefulness of technique
Psychopathy and the Legal System
-15-30% criminal populations and 1% general population
-Most severe and violent offenders
-Predictor of future violence and criminal involvement
Characteristics of serial killers
Serial Killers: Murderers who kill 3 or more people in separate events with a cooling-off period between murders
-characteristics include: brain injury, abuse during childhood, cruelty to animals as children, white males of average IQ, intimate methods of killing, sexualized crimes
Classifying Serial Killers
*Organized- careful selection of victim, planned, avg IQ
*Disorganized- impulsive, random, below avg IQ
*Visionary- psychotic, hears voices, sees visions
*Mission Oriented- kills people they believe are evil
*Hedonistic- kills others for thrill, sexual gratification
*Power Oriented- satisfaction from capturing and controlling victim
-Attempt to dissect and examine psychological state of individual prior to death; they are used to help forensic examiner, also used for civil and criminal cases
-Based on several sources of information (e.g., records, interviews) to get at person's emotional state/intentions prior to death
-Easier to tell when lots of info available but still tough to be certain
-Courts receptive to results in civil cases but less so in criminal cases
*NASH SYSTEM: Natural, Accident, Suicide, Homicide
*Equivocal death scenarios: drug related deaths, autoerotic asphyxia, drowning, vehicular deaths, "Russian roulette", "suicide by cop"
wear pattern on a persons Nike running shoe
Nike running shoe pattern
samples have common source (the one from suspect and one from crime scene)
Methods of communicating about forensic evidence
-Qualitative statement (e.g. inconclusive, possible, reasonable medical certainty)
-Simple match (x shares certain characteristics with y)
-Match plus statistics (e.g. found x and x has y% frequency in this area)
-Individuation (Trace could have only come from 1 person)
-test/retest: when tested on separate days, the finds are the same for each day tested
-interrater reliability: when tested among different raters, the results are the same for each rater
measures what it's meant to
Methods of forensic ID and reliability
Measures must be reliable and valid - this requires testing!
-Bullet matching techniques
-tool signature patterns
How to reduce errors
-proper handling of trace evidence
-routine retesting of trace evidence
-blind and double blind testing
-forensic scientists should have extensive experience and graduate training in science
How jurors weigh forensic evidence
-Jurors have difficulties interpreting probability/statistical statements
-Limited understanding of scientific foundation of forensic identification
-Jurors highly persuaded by fingerprint evidence
-Jurors believe fingerprint identification is a science
memories are accessed in conditions where there is no specific memory cue (GENERATE)
is this (face) familiar to me? Do I recognize it?
-Errors in encoding, storage, and retrieval can occur
-memory traces deteriorate over time
-retrieval of information involves "reconstruction"
Effects of lay beliefs about memory
-memory works like a video camera (63% agreed)
-Once you have experience an event and formed a memory of it, that memory does not change (48% agreed)
-"Own Race Bias"
-more difficult for people to recognize faces of people outside their racial group
-effect is not large but is consistent across races and across ages
Weapon focus and stress (e.g. table 7.1)
if the perpetrator has a weapon the attention is directed away from the face and it becomes a highly emotional/stressful event
2. Accuracy of description
3. Level of attention
4. Degree of certainty - inconsistent with research findings
5. Time between witnessing and identification
Recommendations for improving IDs
1. blind lineups: person administering the lineup doesn't know who the suspect is
2. bias-reducing instructions: "the real perpetrator might not be here" - removes the assumption that the witness is obliged to choose from the available options
3. unbiased lineups: fillers/foils/distractors- alternative suspects in the lineup
4. confidence ratings: obtain confidence statement at time of identification - immediate - before any postidentification feedback
5. video recording: creates a lasting, objective record of the ID process
6. sequential lineups: view one person at a time
7. expert testimony
outside the control of the legal system (ex. view, weapon involved)
under the control of the legal system (ex. lineup administration)
Methods of "refreshing" eyewitness memory
Hypernesia: people usually recall more information when hypnotized
-does not increase the recall of accurate information
-relaxed focused state, more receptive to suggestion
-courts skeptical - restrictions
How do interrogations work? What's the goal and why?
the goal is to illicit a response, when people confess time and money is saved because they do not have to go into trial and there is almost a guaranteed conviction since confession is a very powerful piece of evidence.
Evolution of interrogation techniques (brief history of interrogations)
-prior to 1930: use of direct physical violence
-1931: report on lawlessness and law enforcement
-Since 1961: confessions generally ruled inadmissible is result of physical force, sleep/food deprivation, isolation, threats, promises of leniency
-Modern interrogation: mostly psychological, Reid technique
Know different interrogation techniques (in Reid)
-9 steps, based on 4 strategies:
*Loss of control
*certainty of guilt
Loss of control
small sparse room, interrogator is in control
interrogated alone; deprives suspect of emotional support, suspect has no other way to find out the strength of their case
certainty of guilt
step 1 = direct accusation, interrogator challenges all denials, evidence ploys (evidence that is mentioned to establish guilt; can be real or fabricated)
minimize the seriousness of the crime, provides excuses, imply leniency, shift blame to another person or circumstance
What psychological principle helps to explain why confession evidence is so powerful?
fundamental attribution bias/error
-instrumental/coerced: long intense interrogations, confess to stop interrogation
-instrumental/voluntary: confesses to achieve goal (fame)
-authentic/coerced: long intense interrogation, suspect convinced they committed crime
-authentic/voluntary : confesses because of mental illness
-right to remain silent and request attorney
-80% of suspects waive the rights and subject to interrogation
types of lies
-commission: saying things that are not true
-omission: leaving things out that are not true
-antisocial: to protect or benefit the self
-prosocial: to protect or benefit others
human beings as lie detectors
research on lie detection
I'd know a false confession if I saw one: Prison inmates gave true and false confessions on video. Police detectives and college students judged the truthfulness of the confession. College student accuracy: 59%
Police accuracy: 48%
Police demonstrated a bias toward, this bias increased with interrogation training and job experience.
behavioral indicators that interrogators are told to focus on are flawed indicators of deception.
-averting gaze, squirming, stutter, twirl their hair...
-believing in this could lead to confirmation bias
when we form a strong opinion about someone, we seek out information that confirms that belief or dismiss information that contradicts that belief
lie detection methods
-criterion based content analysis (cbca): examines transcripts
-micro-expressions: tiny facial expressions that cannot be seen with the naked eye
-guilty knowledge test: uses polygraph equipment but does not attempt to detect lies; recognition elevates arousal
-cognitive interview: trying to make witness/suspect talk as much as possible (context reinstatement, report all, change perspectives, change order)
-strategic disclosure of evidence: present evidence at a later stage of interrogation
-fMRI/EEG: the brain = fMRI (where lying occurs) and the EEG (when lying occurs)
-thermal imaging: detects shifts in heat in the face
-eye movement memory: tracks visual attention to a scene based on eye movements
what is repression?
a protective mechanism that pushes disturbing and upsetting memories out of awareness (unconscious processes)
what are recovered memories?
the process that results in conscious access (remembering) a repressed memory
legal issues surrounding repressed memories
-tolling the statute of limitations
-based on the "delayed discovery" doctrine; only evidence may be the evidence itself
-civil and criminal cases
how was filing of repressed memory cases changes in the last few decades?
-peak was from 1991-95
Loftus's "Lost in the Mall" study
Adults presented with 4 stories from their childhood (ages 4-6)
-1 false (lost in the mall)
Read a written description provided by relatives - 25% of participants came to believe that the false story of being lost in the mall
research and alternative explanations
-no scientific evidence for repressed memories
-we do have scientific evidence for:
*vivid memories of traumatic events
*false memory implantation
how often were suggestive techniques used in therapy during the "memory wars"?
in 1995, 1/4 of therapists in the US and UK were using methods that could be characterized as dangerous
how should we evaluate recovered memories?
1. were the memories recovered over time with suggestion or coercion? or were they spontaneous?
2. did the memories begin as a vague impression/feeling?
3. did the events involve repeated abuse which extended into adolescence?
4. did the events occur before the age of three?
5. do the memories involve extremely rare forms of abuse?
Historical background of child witnesses
1980's - growing awareness of child maltreatment and a desire to see it dealt with aggressively
-barriers to children's legal participation were removed
-several high publicized controversial daycare child sexual abuse cases
The McMartin Case
Dozens of preschool children alleged months of satanic ritual abuse by their daycare provider (ex. witnessed human/animal sacrifice, abused in hot air balloons, taken into tunnels under the school, saw witches fly)
State of New Jersey v. Michaels (1994)
Accused of sexually abusing 20 children at a daycare (ex. played the piano naked, forced children to drink her urine, and raped children with knives, forks, spoons, and Lego blocks)
-conviction overturned after 5 years
importance of child witnesses
-Children most often testify about maltreatment
-child abuse cases often come down to child's word vs. the defendants
-Children's disclosures are critical to successfully prosecute this crime and protect children from abusive situations
strengths/weaknesses of child witnesses
children are cognitively different from adults with regard to memory, language and communication, and conceptual understanding
Competency: ability to perform a task
-Capacity and Intelligence= understand and answer simple question, observe and recall pertinent information
-truth/lies= know the difference, understand the importance
"the degree to which people's encoding, storage, retrieval and reporting of events can be influence by a range of social and psychological factors"
-substantial body of research showing that children make false allegations
-growing body of research showing that children also make false denials
Sam Stone study
throughout the course of a week children were read stories about a person named Sam Stone. Sam Stone was brought into the classroom and then the children were asked questions about Sam. The questions were all suggestive and children 2 out of the 3 children that were interviewed made false denials to what Sam Stone actually did in the class that day.
2. Rapport building
3. Practice Narrative
NICHD protocol #1: Introductory
-interviewer introduces him/herself
-clarifies the child's task
-explains basic ground rules
NICHD protocol #2: Rapport building
-goal is to create a relaxed, supportive atmosphere
-"get to know" the child
-"tell me about thing you like to do / don't like to do"
NICHD protocol #3: Practice narrative
-tell me about your birthday, last day of school, etc.
-continues to build rapport by having children describe neutral events
-children learn the level of detail expected of them and practice providing narratives to open-ended questions
-interviewer practices asking open-ended questions
NICHD protocol #4: Transition
neutral, non-suggestive attempts
-tell me why you are here today
-I heard you saw a policeman last week, tell me what you talked about
NICHD protocol #5: Substantive
-facilitator: non suggestive prompt to continue a response ("ok" , "yes", etc.)
-invitation: an open ended request that the child recall information about the incident ("tell me everything that happened")
-cued invitation: a type if invitation that refocuses the child attention to previously mentioned details ("you mentioned ___, tell me more about that")
-directive: asks for direct specific detail; "where did that happen", 'where did he touch you"
special measures for child witnesses
-Hearsay Testimony: testifying about what someone said outside of court.
-Closed Circuit Television (CCTV): child's testimony is given in a separate room and broadcast live to the courtroom
-Others: videotaped testimony, dogs in the witness box, screen between child and defendant.
1968 jury selection and service act
jurors must be fair cross section of community - random selection vs. "deselection"
-potential jurors are often selected from voter lists
"to come when called"
-random sample of potential jurors summoned to appear in court
"to see and tell"
-jurors selected after vetting process
-pretrial interview - usually held in open court
jury selection - challenges for cause
-unlikely that the juror can render an impartial verdict based only on evidence and law - ex. doctor in a malpractice case
-no number limit
jury selection - peremptory challenges
-lawyer can dismiss a juror without giving a reason and without approval from the judge
-each side gets a limited number; depends on case seriousness
jury selection in the OJ trial
-Prosecution decided to rely on intuition
-Defense team hired a jury consultant
-Defense team's data showed:
-African American women least likely to convict/ more likely to excuse past physical abuse of Nicole/view lead prosecutor negatively.
-African American men and women most receptive to the theme that corrupt police officers were planting evidence.
-Well educated jurors were most likely to trust the incriminating DNA evidence.
-recognized as sharing a characteristic or attitude that distinguishes them from other potential jurors
-lawyers are not allowed to use peremptory challenges to eliminate people based on race, religion or gender
how does trial consulting work?
-assist attorneys before and during trial
-use "data driven" approach
-use mock juries to:
*uncover relations hips between juror characteristics and responses to the evidence - guides peremptory challenges
*design questions for voir dire
*get a clear sense of the strengths and weaknesses of the case
what predicts juror decisions?
"Locus of Control"
-how people tend to explain what happens to them
-internal locus of control: outcomes in life due to own abilities of efforts
-external locus of control: outcomes in like due to outside forces
Jurors who are similar to the defendant will empathize and identify with the defendant and thus be less likely to convict
-research shows that sometimes similarity does increase leniency but the effect depends on how strong the evidence is against the defendant and how many "similar" people are members of the jury
what is CST?
"Competence to Stand Trial "
-the ability to participate adequately in criminal proceedings and to aid in one's own defense
1. can the defendant understand the charges?
2. can the defendant assist counsel with defense?
what is the dusky standard?
-1st case to define CST in the US
-In the present, defendant must understand proceedings
-In the present, defendant must be able to assist in own defense.
-Is the defendant's psychological state at time of crime considered for CST?
how is competence established?
Burden of proof is on the defense
-"Preponderance of the evidence" standard - more likely than not
- CST is a legal concept, not psychological
- CST is the ability of the defendant to perform 10 court related functions
10 court related functions to establish CST
1. understand CURRENT legal situation
2. understand charges
3. understand available pleas
4. understand possible penalties
5. understand roles of judge/attorneys
6. trust/communicate with defense counsel
7. help locate witnesses
8. aid in developing strategy for cross examining witness
9. behave appropriately
10. Make appropriate decisions about trial strategy
Debates against competency
- should it be a flexible standard? in other words should threshold for competence be affected by the complexity of the case?
-is competence to plead guilty and/or to waive having an attorney represent you during trial an identical standard to competence to stand trial?
CST vs. pleading guilty vs. waiving an attorney
-Godinez v. Moran (1993): separate psych evals for guilty pleas and/or representing oneself not required once CST is established
-Guilty Plea (Johnson v. Herbst, 1938): must be knowing, voluntary and intelligent
-Indiana v. Edwards (2008): Supreme Court ruled that there was higher standard for the mentally ill to waive right to counsel
CST evaluation tools
-there is no gold standard
-includes using Forensic Assessment Instruments (FAIs)
*Competency Screening Test
*Competence Assessment for Standing Trial for Defendants with Mental Retardation (CAST-MR)
*MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool-Criminal Adjudication (MacCAT-CA)
what is malingering?
intentional faking mental illness or disability motivated by an external incentive/goal
-can be difficult to detect
-tests are available to detect malingering
-benefits are not great
restoration of competency
-Defendant held in mental health facility
-Jackson v Indiana (1972): limited confinement to the time necessary to determine if the defendant could be returned to competence in the foreseeable future.
-Generally 4-18 months
-If non restorable, charges may be dismissed or involuntary civil commitment.
-Restoration may include education and treatment.
trial of Andrea Yates
-was found guilty in the first trial
-there was faulty expert witness testimony
-in the second trial she was found "Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity"
be able to define the concept of "insanity"
-like CST, it is a legal concept - you will not find it in the DSM...it is not a diagnosis
-mental illness may not mean insanity
-unlike CST, insanity refers to state of mind AT THE TIME OF THE CRIME
-ID in every state except: Montana, Utah, Kansas, Idaho (MUKI)
-Daniel M'Naghten suffered from paranoid delusions that gov't was trying to kill him
-tried to kill the prime minister, instead killed his secretary
-Angered Queen Victoria and the public so new restrictions imposed
-presumption of sanity
-must have had "defect of reason" or "disease of the mind" at the time of the crime
-Referred to as a cognitive test of insanity
-released from the U.S. Navy after psychiatric exam
-hospitalized after suicide attempt
-mental condition worsened while serving sentence for car theft and writing bad checks
-arrested for breaking and entering - no insanity plea allowed by judge
-cour of appeals overturned conviction and ordered new standard of insanity
Durham Rule / Standard (1954)
- aka "the product test": an accused is not criminally responsible if his unlawful act was the product of mental disease or defect
-4 psychologists testified about severe psychological disturbance (paranoid schizophrenia?)
-burden of proof: was placed on the prosecution to show that he was sane
-experts agreed that he was severely mentally ill but there was a public outrage.
know the evolution of the insanity defense
-Immoral to convict and punish people who are not responsible for their criminal behavior.
-Retribution Principle; Deterrence Principle
-Around for several centuries: Roman-Empire-people 'without mastery of mind' should not be punished for crime.
punishment proportionate to the crime
-helps the harmed party feel that justice was achieved
-specific: perpetrator learns that committing a crime leads to punishment
-general: others will learn that committing a crime leads to punishment
-requires that perpetrator be deterrred
alternatives to NGRI
-Guilty but Mentally Ill (GBMI)
Guilty but Mentally Ill (GBMI)
-allowed in 13 states
-found guilty and sentenced to a length of time consistent with verdict
-supposed to receive mental health treatment in prison or be transferred to a secure psychiatric facility
-no guarantee of treatment
-diminished capacity: lacks the capacity for certain crimes
-available for crimes requiring a certain mental state such as: first degree murder
techniques for assessment of the insanity defense
-no gold standard
-retrospective analysis is difficult
-malingering is possible
*Mental State at the Time of Offense Screening Evaluation (MSE)
*Rogers Criminal Responsibility Assessment Scales (R-CRAS)
jurors perceptions of the insanity defense
-Jurors translate formal into understandable language
-Jurors use preexisting "commonsense" notions of insanity
-Jurors NOT constrained by legal definition
-Jurors NOT constrained by legal instructions
-Jurors who hold strong beliefs about the insanity defense are more likely to hold strong beliefs about other aspects of the legal system
Battered Women Syndrome
Rape Trauma Syndrome
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Walkers 3 phase cycle
Phase 1: increased tension, anger, blaming, and arguing
Phase 2: battering-hitting, slapping, kicking, choking, use of object or weapons. Sexual abuse, verbal threats and abuse.
Phase 3: calm stage. Many may deny violence, say he was drunk, say he's sorry and promises it will never happen again
Descriptions of battered woman
-body image distortions
-sexual intimacy issues
Description of batterers
-fear of abandonment
BWS used as a defense
claim self defense
-legal definition of self defense: imminent bodily harm
effectiveness/problems with using BWS
-jurors are negatively inclined towards women who kill their partners
-validity and usefulness of BWS has been criticized
-bws has raised awareness of domestic violence
what is RTS and how is it used in court?
-RTS can be used for the defense or the prosecution
-often used to rebut the argument of consent
-can be used to explain "unexpected" behaviors
what is PTSD and how does it compare to BWS and RTS?
PTSD v BWS
-victims of repeated abuse can develop PTSD
-PTSD is more established in the DSM
-tests used to assess PTSD
PTSD v RTS
-50% of women who are raped develop clinical symptoms of PTSD
-problems with RTS testimony indicate need for RTS to be replaced by PTSD
-weigh the evidence and adjust tendency to vote guilty/not guilty as evidence is received
-jurors construct stories to make sense of the evidence
-undisputed facts of a case vs. inferences people make to create their stories
when evidence is ambiguous, juries are "liberated" from the constraints of the evidence
bias in juror decisions
-Pretrial publicity: often includes information that is not admissible at Trial. People exposed to more news coverage of a crime are more likely to presume that the defendant is guilty
-Defendant characteristics: wealth, social status, gender, attractiveness, injured
-Inadmissible evidence: information that might be prejudicial
-Complex evidence: often presented by expert witnesses. When evidence is complex, jurors may use peripheral cues to weigh the expert testimony
stages of deliberation
-elect a foreperson, discuss procedures, raise general issues
2. open conflict
-contentious; differences of opinion become apparent. Persuasion occurs
-attempts to make everyone satisfied with the verdict and soothe hurt feelings
-12 person jury inherited form British
-constitutionally permissible to have 6 person juries in noncapital cases
-6 is the minimum
-jury size affects the process more than the outcome
-required in certain kinds of cases (capital offenses, 6-person jury)
saves time, less thorough, fewer hung juries, deliberations come to a halt as soon as majority reached.
-juries may base their verdicts on reasoning that ignores, disregards, or goes beyond the law
-juries are expected to represent the moral conscience of the community
-radical reformers: overhaul/abandon system
-moderate reformers: make a good system better
juries v. judges
-judges are supposedly impartial/ no biases
-research shows that judges are influenced by bias as much as jurors
-judges and jurors have high agreement rates
-disagreements often occur in ambiguous cases
-juries are somewhat more lenient
-U.S. has hr largest incarcerated population (756/100,000)
- reasons: mandatory sentencing, longer sentences, 3 strike laws, juvenile incarceration, drug convictions
short term local facility
long term state facility
breaking federal law
serious violent criminals
releasing inmates before sentence is complete
-violent street culture importation
-harshness of prison life:
*separation from outside world
*no decision making power
*stark, oppressive environment, no privacy
*violence, gangs, drugs
does prison work?
-good at incapacitation but crime rate does not fall
-retribution = successful
-deterrence = failure - stable crime, 67% recidivism
-rehabilitation = failure - People who go to jail instead of probation are more likely to go back to jail within 3 years
-restitution: paying money
-probation: under supervision of probation officer
-house arrest: electronic monitoring
-residential community correction centers (halfway houses): criminals live together, attend therapy, follow requirement (employment, chores)
death penalty stats
-U.S. one of few countries with Death Penalty
-32 States*, Federal Government, Military authorize use of death penalty
-Methods-lethal injections, gas, electrocution, hanging, firing squad
-"Aggravated murder" now is the only crime punishable by death in the US
-Executions are rare: Less than 1% of murderers (2000-2010: 570 people executed)
Furman v. Georgia 1972
Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty as it was being administered was unconstitutional
-8th amendment: cruel and unusual punishment
-14th amendment: equal protection
Gregg v. Georgia 1976
-"guided discretion" for jurors
-established a 2 phase proceedings for juries (1: guilt / 2:penalty)
-aggravating v. mitigating factors
Increase the wrongfulness of a defendant's actions or the harmful impact of the crime -- ex. cruel crime
reduce the defendant's blameworthiness and make execution less appropriate (but don't justify or excuse the crime) -- ex. history of child abuse
death qualification of juries
-During voir dire, it must be determined that the jury is "death qualified" (willing to vote for the death penalty)
-Death qualified jurors are more conviction prone and more receptive to aggravating factors/less receptive to mitigating factors
Lockhart v. McCree 1986
-dismissed research on death qualification as irrelevant
racial disparities (McCleskey v. kemp 1987)
-court was unreceptive to the evidence on racial disparities in the death penalty
-court decided that some unfairness is inevitable and tolerable
Death penalty as a deterrent?
-States with death penalty have higher rates of murder than those without the death penalty
-Multiple US and international studies (in 12 countries) show that the death penalty does not suppress murder rate
-small increase in murders in the weeks following an execution
-stronger effect for highly publicized executions
-may weaken inhibitions against violent behavior, desensitize people to killing, communicate that killing is a justifiable response to being provoked
errors in death penalty cases
-Since 1900: 416 people wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to death (23 were executed)
-DNA exoneration cases: 140 people exonerated and released from death row
-most frequent causes of error: incompetent defense lawyers, faulty or misleading jury instructions, prosecutorial misconduct