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Due Process vs. Crime Control: Death Qualification and Jury Attitudes

Robert Fitzgerald and Phoebe C. Ellsworth
Law and Human Behavior
Vol. 8, No. 1/2, Death Qualification (Jun., 1984), pp. 31-51
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1393474
Page Count: 21
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Due Process vs. Crime Control: Death Qualification and Jury Attitudes
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Abstract

Juries that exclude people who are unwilling to impose the death penalty (death-qualified juries) may be biased against capital defendants. To evaluate this possibility we compared the demographic characteristics and attitudes toward the criminal justice system of people who would or would not be excluded by the Witherspoon standard. A random sample of 811 eligible jurors in Alameda County, California were interviewed by telephone. Of the 717 respondents who stated that they could be fair and impartial in deciding on the guilt or innocence of a capital defendant, 17.2% said that they could never vote to impose the death penalty, and thus are excludable under Witherspoon. Significantly greater proportions of blacks than whites and of females than males are eliminated by the process of death qualification. On the attitudinal measures, the death-qualified respondents were consistently more prone to favor the point of view of the prosecution, to mistrust criminal defendants and their counsel, to take a punitive approach toward offenders, and to be more concerned with crime control than with due process. Eleven of the 13 items showed statistically significant differences.

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