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Lecture 4

CRMJ 254 Lecture 4: Week 4 CRMJ 254 Notes
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Department
Criminal Justice
Course Code
CRMJ 254
Professor
Sealock

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Week 4
Individual states differ regarding capital punishment in many ways…
Whether it’s available at all
The method(s) used to carry out the sentence
o ALL states use lethal injection as the primary or only method,
but…
o Many states have various alternative methods available
How frequently it’s implemented – Factors affecting this:
o Number of death-punishable offenses in that state
o Prosecutorial willingness to seek the death penalty (can vary by
county within a state)
o Juror willingness to sentence defendants to death (can vary by
county within a state)
o Complexity of appeals process and length of time spent on death
row before sentence is carried out
o Whether a formal or informal moratorium exists
How do wrongful convictions happen in death penalty cases?
Since the death penalty was reinstated in the U.S. in 1976, there have been
161 exonerations
First individual on death row in Maryland was Kirk Bloodsworth for the
rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl; sentenced to death in 1985 but released
in 1993
What are the common threads of death-row exonerations… we can
identify common factors:
Eyewitness misidentification
Unvalidated or misinterpreted forensic science
o Use of discredited techniques
o Misinterpretation of findings
False confessions
Jailhouse informant (“snitch”) testimony
o How reliable are such witnesses?
o Jurors are not always informed that the informant has entered a “quid
pro quo’ arrangement with the prosecutor
o Is there any way to regulate the use of incentivized informants?
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Description
Week 4 Individual states differ regarding capital punishment in many ways Whether its available at all The method(s) used to carry out the sentence o ALL states use lethal injection as the primary or only method, but o Many states have various alternative methods available How frequently its implemented Factors affecting this: o Number of death-punishable offenses in that state o Prosecutorial willingness to seek the death penalty (can vary by county within a state) o Juror willingness to sentence defendants to death (can vary by county within a state) o Complexity of appeals process and length of time spent on death row before sentence is carried out o Whether a formal or informal moratorium exists How do wrongful convictions happen in death penalty cases? Since the death penalty was reinstated in the U.S. in 1976, there have been 161 exonerations First individual on death row in Maryland was Kirk Bloodsworth for the rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl; sentenced to death in 1985 but released in 1993 What are the common threads of death-row exonerations we can identify common factors: Eyewitness misidentification Unvalidated or misinterpreted forensic science o Use of discredited techniques o Misinterpretation of findings False confessions Jailhouse informant (snitch) testimony o How reliable are such witnesses? o Jurors are not always informed that the informant has entered a quid pro quo arrangement with the prosecutor o Is there any way to regulate the use of incentivized informants?
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