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Too Late for Luck: A Comparison of Post-Furman Exonerations and Executions of the Innocent

Too Late for Luck: A Comparison of Post-Furman Exonerations and Executions of the Innocent

Abstract

This study is a quantitative analysis designed to compare two groups of factually innocent capital defendants: those who were exonerated and those who were executed. There are a total of 97 cases in the sample, including 81 exonerations and 16 executions. The primary objective of the authors is to identify factors that may predict case outcomes among capital defendants with strong claims of factual innocence. Through the use of a logistic regression model, the following variables were significant predictors of case outcome (exoneration vs. execution): allegations of perjury, multiple types of evidence, prior felony record, type of attorney at trial, and race of the defendant. These results point toward significant problems with the administration of capital punishment deriving primarily from the quality of the case record created at trial.
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