This page was last updated on 3/21/2019
While thirty-two states and the federal government currently have the death penalty within their legal framework, issues surrounding the administration and fairness of the death penalty are perennially hot topics in U.S. politics and among members of the bench and bar. Several states have engaged in a moratorium on executions while they study possible inequities within the system, while others have developed innocence projects to examine the innocence of death-row inmates through DNA testing.
Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may
be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.
Get the latest information about the statistics and demographics relating to Capital Punishment in the 33 US states which carry the penalty.
This essay explores the adequacy of one of the safeguards adopted by many states to ensure that the death penalty is applied fairly following the de facto moratorium imposed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972.
This article examines the behavior of prosecutors and juries with respect to the decision to impose the death penalty.
In the second case to challenge a three-drug lethal injection protocol (see Baze v. Rees, 2008), the Supreme Court upheld such a method of execution. The significant difference between this case and Baze was that the first drug in the protocol was a sedative (Midazolam) rather than a barbiturate (Sodium Thiopentol). Treating the plurality opinion of Chief Justice Roberts in Baze v. Rees as the controlling precedent, the Court ruled that the petitioner had failed to meet both burdens established by that ruling: (1) That the use of Midazolam is "sure or very likely to cause needless suffering," and (2) that there is an available alternative that carries a lesser risk of pain.
This article explores common problems encountered when lawyers attempt to meet the mandate of Guideline 10.7(B)(2) from the perspective of court administrators, court reporters, and capital-defense attorneys.
State-by-state listing of the rules, regulations, recommendations and other schemata regarding standards of representation in capital cases.
This article discusses how private bars, especially the ABA, attempt to ensure proper representation for those who may be executed.
This article investigates reactions of prosecutors and defense attorneys to reversals in individual capital cases.
This article presents the findings of an investigation of the time expended by fourteen state supreme courts to resolve direct appeals of capital convictions and sentences.
This article discusses the current and future death penalty jurisprudence of the Supreme Court and looks at cases that collectively illustrate the Courts' struggle to create consistent standards of capital punishment.
This article addresses two research reports about capital cases and habeas corpus. These studies offer a contemporary snapshot of postconviction review and illustrate the influence of state collateral processes on capital habeas litigation in the federal courts.
This article addresses the criticism that plea bargaining is a form of coercion, as prosecutors persuade defendants to forfeit their trial rights for fear of receiving harsher punishment if they do not plead guilty.
This study provides empirical information about the processing of state prisoner petitions seeking habeas corpus relief in the U.S. District Courts under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.
This article addresses the expensiveness of death penalty cases both time-wise and monetarily for judicial systems to administer.
This project conducts research and educates the public and decision-makers on the operation of capital jurisdictions' death penalty laws and processes in order to promote fairness and accuracy in death penalty systems. The Project encourages adoption of the ABA's Protocols on the Fair Administration of the Death Penalty; assists state, federal, and international stakeholders on death penalty issues; and develops new initiatives to support reform of death penalty processes.