A Deficit of Due Process: Racial Bias within Death Penalty Sentencing in Harris County, Texas
- This project researches racial bias within the death penalty in Harris County, Texas. Although Harris County has greatly limited its use of the death penalty in recent years, the area was once regarded as the “capital of capital punishment.” This thesis analyzes crime and legal data to determine if a relationship exists between race and death sentences. The data is collected from the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Reports and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Utilizing data that centers around the type of crime committed, victim characteristics, and defendant characteristics, this research examines if a racial bias exists among all death penalty eligible cases within this prominent county. Overall, this study displays a causal relationship between the race of the defendant and the sentence received in Harris County, Texas. Between 1976 and 2016, a minority defendant is 1.58 times more likely to be sentenced to the death penalty compared to a white defendant. Furthermore, a Black defendant, compared to a white defendant, is 1.82 times more likely to receive a death sentence between 1976 and 2016. Prior to the 2005 legislation that allowed sentences of life without the possibility of parole in capital murder cases, a Black defendant was 1.56 times more likely to be sentenced to death. Following the 2005 life-without-parole law, this disparity drastically increased by 5.42 times to an odds ratio of 8.45.
|Type of resource
|May 14, 2020
|Law and Economics
- Use and reproduction
- User agrees that, where applicable, content will not be used to identify or to otherwise infringe the privacy or confidentiality rights of individuals. Content distributed via the Stanford Digital Repository may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
- Preferred Citation
- Cooper, Bella. (2020). A Deficit of Due Process: Racial Bias within Death Penalty Sentencing in Harris County, Texas. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at: https://purl.stanford.edu/nk398hv8304
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