Predictors of Death Sentencing for Minority, Equal, and Majority Female Juries in Capital Murder Trials

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Death penalty, jury sex compositions, gender and criminal justice processing

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The relatively small body of prior research investigating whether the sex composition of juries impacts sentencing decisions has produced equivocal results. Exploring this topic further, the current study used a large sample of capital cases from North Carolina (n = 675) to examine (a) whether jury sex composition predicted jury capital punishment sentencing decisions; and (b) whether there were different models of sentencing for male-majority, equal male-female, and female-majority juries. When we controlled for a number of legal and extralegal factors, our findings indicated that jury sex composition was independently related to sentencing outcomes. Specifically, equal male-female juries were significantly more likely and female-majority juries were significantly less likely to choose the death penalty versus a sentence of life in prison. In addition, different models (predictors) of sentencing were revealed for each of the jury sex compositions. Implications for future research and policy are discussed.

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Women & Criminal Justice, v. 26, issue 4, p. 260-280