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February 17, 2009

Looking at the interaction of religious appeals and capital sentencing

Just yesterday I noted here the frequent intersection of religion and the death penalty, and last month I noted in this posta new cert petition concerning issues raised by juror consideration of biblical passages during the penalty phase of a capital trial.   Readers engaged by these stories should check out this new short piece recently appearing on SSRN, titled "Book Review: Religion in Criminal Justice by Monica K. Miller."  This review is authored by Geraldine Szott Moohr and Roger Sherman, and here is the abstract:

Do appeals to religious values during closing arguments of capital cases influence juror's decisions to impose the death penalty?  Based on experiments with mock jurors, Monica K. Miller is willing to conclude that religious appeals do not interfere with jurors' sentencing decisions.  But the religious appeals she presents to mock jurors are based on weak written summaries of cases rather than, say, dramatic presentations, so their failure will not support a general conclusion about the effect of religious appeals.  More accurately, her studies show that religious appeals — as represented in written summaries — do not interfere with juror's sentencing decisions in death penalty cases.  Miller's work provides preliminary results, and the main question about effects of appeals to religious values remains unanswered.

February 17, 2009 at 02:02 PM | Permalink


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