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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/3820

Title: Capital jury sentencing recommendations: the relationship between mental illness-related mitigating factors and life versus death decisions
Authors: Wolbransky, Melinda F.
Keywords: Clinical psychology;Capital punishment--Mental illness;Mentally ill--Jurisprudence
Issue Date: Jun-2011
Abstract: Over the past 10 years, the United States Supreme Court has created two categorical exceptions to the death penalty: the young and individuals with mental retardation. Researchers and scholars have suggested that defendants diagnosed with severe mental illnesses will be the next categorical exclusion, a decision that could affect up to 10% of death row inmates. It is, therefore, critical to evaluate jury decision making in capital cases as it relates to mental illness – a factor that will be taken into consideration if the Court decides to hear this issue. The present study examined archival court data from 368 North Carolina capital cases. We evaluated how mitigating circumstances related to male defendants’ (N=326) mental illness related to juries’ capital sentencing decisions. Results suggest that the relationship between mental illness-related mitigating factors and jury decision making may differ depending on the specific mitigating factor presented to the jury. Both statutorily defined mental illness-related mitigating factors—(“capacity to appreciate wrongfulness or conform conduct” and “mental or emotional disturbance”) – were significantly related to sentencing decisions. However, neither the (1) presentation of, nor (2) jury agreement with non-statutory mental illness-related mitigating factors were significant predictors of sentencing decision. The broad legal implications for defense attorneys, mental health experts, judges, and policy makers are discussed.
Description: Thesis (PhD, Clinical psychology)--Drexel University, 2012.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/3820
Appears in Collections:Drexel Theses and Dissertations

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