They know not what they do: Unguided and misguided discretion in Pennsylvania capital cases

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Abstract

Interviews with capital jurors demonstrate that jurors base their decisions on incorrect assumptions regarding the early release of defendants, decide the punishment prematurely, and fail to understand jury instructions. The 74 interviews from the Pennsylvania portion of the Capital Jury Project add insights into the cumulative and relative impact of these three problems with jurors' decision making. Every juror demonstrated at least one of these shortcomings. Underestimating the length of a life sentence was related to considering death the only acceptable punishment and prematurely deciding on death, and the most strongly related to voting for death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-211
Number of pages25
JournalJustice Quarterly
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2003

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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