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The Jury Under FireMyth, Controversy, and Reform$
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Brian H. Bornstein and Edie Greene

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190201340

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190201340.001.0001

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Jurors in Criminal Cases Can Fairly Punish Wrongdoers

Jurors in Criminal Cases Can Fairly Punish Wrongdoers

(p.222) 11 Jurors in Criminal Cases Can Fairly Punish Wrongdoers
The Jury Under Fire

Brian H. Bornstein

Edie Greene

Oxford University Press

Juries rarely determine criminal punishment, but they do in the most serious cases, namely, those in which the defendant is eligible for the death penalty. Research shows, however, that jurors’ comprehension of instructions in capital cases is poor, and their decisions are susceptible to a variety of biases. Extralegal factors relating to defendant, victim, and juror characteristics can all affect sentencing outcomes. The death qualification process, which produces conviction-prone juries, is particularly problematic. Research documenting the influence of these extralegal factors calls into question the fairness of having juries sentence capital defendants and whether the errors are correctable. The chapter concludes that the current system of allowing juries to punish criminal offenders is seriously flawed.

Keywords:   Capital punishment, death penalty, media, sentencing disparities, aggravating and mitigating circumstances, death qualification, victim impact evidence, juror attitudes

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