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Kentucky Capital Jury Project in Progress: Guided Discretion or Negotiated Peace of Mind? (Part II)

NCJ Number
Advocate Volume: 17 Issue: 1 Dated: (February 1995) Pages: 14-19
M Sandys
Date Published
6 pages
This analysis focuses on two jurors who first thought that the defendant should receive a life sentence, but who ultimately voted for capital punishment.
The two jurors served on different cases, but in judgment of crimes sharing similarities. In both cases, the victim was a white female who was the employer of the defendant. In addition, money was the motive to some degree in both cases. In each case, the juror's reluctance to vote for a death sentence was based on personal beliefs, not the mitigating factors that are supposed to guide their discretion toward leniency. If this finding holds true for other jurors, the Supreme Court's endorsement of guided discretion statutes as the means to curtailing arbitrariness in capital sentencing is open to question. The analysis also suggested that the Court's concern over guilt nullifiers is unjustified. Finally, results indicated that at least some jurors can consider the full range of available penalties, as required by the 1985 decision in Wainwright v. Witt, regardless of personal beliefs.