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Race and the Death Penalty in Kentucky Murder Trials: An Analysis of Post-Gregg Outcomes

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 7 Issue: 1 Dated: (March 1990) Pages: 189-207
T J Keil; G F Vito
Date Published
19 pages
This study examines the effect of the victim's race on the probability that an accused murderer will be charged with a capital crime and sentenced to death in Kentucky.
The results show that blacks accused of killing whites had a higher than average probability of being charged with a capital crime, by the prosecutor, and sentenced to die, by the jury, than did other homicide offenders. This finding remains even after several factors are taken into account: the heinousness of the murder, prior criminal record, the personal relationship between the victim and the offender, and the probability that the accused would not stand trial for a capital offense. The study concludes with a discussion of the possible reasons that race is an important factor in Kentucky's capital sentencing system. Case list, 4 tables, and 35 references. (Author abstract modified)