This page provides the title, authors, abstract, and a word cloud for each article and essay published in JCJL. Click HERE for a brief essay written by Josh Beck and Scott Jaques (Editors of Qualitative Criminology) on the benefits of using a word cloud rather than keywords to understand the contents of an article or essay. JCJL uses https://monkeylearn.com/wordcloud/ to generate word clouds for the articles and essays it publishes. Each word cloud is based on the text of the body of the article, excluding the abstract, footnotes, and references.
ARTICLE: The Failed Attempt to Overthrow the American Government: Crime and Insurrection
by Frances P. Bernat
President Trump, refusing to concede the 2020 Presidential election, claimed that there was election fraud. On January 6, 2021, the date set to finalize the election results by Congress, President Trump implored hundreds of thousands of his followers to march to the Capitol and “Stop the Steal.” Inside and outside the Capitol building, the police were overpowered by a mob of Trump supporters who did not want to have Joe Biden be formally declared the next U.S. President. The siege on the Capitol, in a failed attempted overthrow of the national government, was thwarted later that night. In the early morning hours of January 7th, Congress declared the winner of the 2020 election to be Biden. The consequences of the violence at the Capitol will be felt for many months and years to come. In the immediate aftermath, the F.B.I. began to arrest people involved in the failed attempt to overthrow the American government. They received tips from family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors who helped identify those who participated in the Capitol breach. Together with social media postings, video, and photographs of the people involved in the violence on January 6th, the Department of Justice proceeded to charge people with various crimes. Not one crime to date is for insurrection. Rather, most of the charges are minor offenses. This paper analyzes over 400 arrests of persons charged in the breach of the Capitol in the first few months following the violent attempt to overthrow the American government.
Race, Rallies, and Rhetoric: How Trump’s Political Discourse Contributed to the Capitol Riot
by Heather Alaniz, Kimberly D. Dodson, and Jared R. Dmello
The January 6, 2021, Capitol riot in Washington D.C. reflects one of the worst moments for democracy in U.S. History. Estimates indicate 10% of the individuals arrested following the Capitol riot had connections to far right militias and other right-wing extremist groups. To investigate the events that led up to the Capitol riot, this study provides a descriptive analysis of Trump’s public rhetoric between 2015-2020 citing tweets, speeches, and news interviews where his words created an environment for violence among his supporters prior to and throughout his presidency.
Police officer political identity and their opinions of public protests
by Lois V. Woods, and Kimberley K. Blackmon
Purpose: Controversy surrounding the BLM movement and the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, has been felt even within the ranks of policing. Participation of police officers in the Capitol riot seemed to be at odds with the duty and responsibility of those officers who sustained serious injuries that day. Method: Using data collected from active law enforcement officers, the current study examines how political identity may play a role in a police officer’s perceptions of law enforcement engagement in political protests. Results: The only significant difference found was police refraining from engaging in or participating with BLM. No other significant relationship existed between political identity and protest with other groups by police. Conclusions: These findings suggest that while there may be some reluctance to engage in BLM by police, there is not overwhelming evidence to suggest that police officers are politically motivated in their opinions of public protest.
ARTICLE: Using Experimental Realism to Reevaluate Factors Related to Eyewitness Identification
There is a wealth of research on eyewitness accuracy dating back to the early 1900s, which has identified a variety of factors influencing eyewitness misinformation and misidentifications. However, this body of research has primarily utilized laboratory designs that do not reflect the reality of an eyewitness experiencing a criminal event. The current study expands research in this area by uniquely utilizing experiential realism (a staged theft in real time) to reevaluate some of the known factors related to eyewitness misidentification. After viewing a staged theft, study participants were randomly assigned to experimental conditions, and their ability to accurately identify the perpetrator was assessed. The primary results indicate that close to 69 percent of eyewitnesses provided inaccurate information, but more than half were confident they were accurate. Factors such as biased lineup instructions, co-witness misinformation, distance from the crime, and retention intervals influenced eyewitness accuracy. Ongoing consistency in empirical results across studies for eyewitness misidentifications, despite differences in research methodologies, should prompt national change in how eyewitness testimony is used in criminal cases.
ARTICLE: Too Young for the Crime, Yet Old Enough to do Life: A Critical Review of How State Felony Murder Laws Apply to Juvenile Defendants
by Stuti S. Kokkalera, Beck M. Strah, and Anya Bornstein
The felony murder rule applies when a killing occurs during the commission of a felony offense. Youth under the age of 18 years can be charged with felony murder even if they did not commit the killing or intend the death of the victim, and subsequently sentenced to an adult maximum sentence, including life in prison. This study examines how states enable lengthy sentencing terms for their juvenile defendants charged with felony murder. By reviewing felony murder provisions and state appellate court decisions in all fifty states and the District of Columbia, we identify how juveniles who did not commit the act of homicide and/or intend for the killing in a felony murder are sentenced to lengthy prison terms. We conclude with a call to recognize that punishment terms of juveniles for felony murder should be viewed as unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment.
ARTICLE: Weber and Judicial Legitimacy: A Critical Analysis of the U.S. Supreme Court Immigration Cases Nielsen v. Preap (2019) and Barton v. Barr (2020)
by Frances P. Bernat, Craig Curtis, and Rebecca Davalos
This paper analyzes the legitimacy of two U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Nielsen v. Preap and Barton v. Barr, against the principles expressed in Max Weber’s theories regarding rational legal order and judicial legitimacy. The legitimacy of our judiciary depends on the public perception that it is a politically neutral, non-partisan arbiter of the rule of law in our society. When the Court is perceived as serving partisan interests, or promoting arbitrary action by the executive branch, its legitimacy is threatened. After careful exploration of the value of an impartial and politically neutral judiciary, as seen through the lens of Weber’s theories, the inescapable conclusion is that both the Nielsen v. Preap and Barton v. Barr rulings are neither just nor fair, and are harmful to the legitimacy of the judiciary.
ARTICLE: An Exploratory Study of Occupational and Secondary Traumatic Stress Among a Mid-sized Public Defenders’ Office
by Elizabeth Dotson, David C. Brody, and Ruibin Lu
The impact of stress on the mental and physical well-being of criminal justice professionals is of critical import for the effective operation of the criminal justice system. While a number of studies have examined various forms of stress among law enforcement and correctional officers, minimal research has examined the presence and impact of stressors among individuals working in the criminal courts. This exploratory study examines whether indigent defense attorneys suffer from occupational stress and secondary traumatic stress. A survey of attorneys from a mid-sized public defender’s office were found to have symptoms of severe occupational stress as well as high levels of secondary traumatic stress. Furthermore, regression analyses indicated that secondary traumatic stress and severe occupational stress had significant negative impacts on attorney job satisfaction. Implications for these preliminary findings are discussed as well as recommendations to limit the negative impacts stress has on indigent defense attorneys.
ARTICLE: Comparing Corporeal Lineups to Photo Arrays
by Andrew J. Costello, Blair Hoplight, and Maria Lombardo
An eyewitness identification study of a simulated theft of a laptop in a lecture hall was conducted in a northeastern university. After five days, 148 subjects attempted to identify the suspect from either a lineup or a photo array. Corporal lineups and video lineups were conducted in addition to traditional static photo arrays and a new “dynamic photo array” consisting of the use of front, left profile, and right profile images presented in an animated sequence within the standard six-pack photo array. No significant differences between correct identification, misidentification, and non-selection were found between any of the identification methods used. These findings suggest policy implications for the expansion of photo arrays for accepted identification in criminal courts, the use of dynamic photo arrays, and the use of centralized remotely administered video lineups by removing the concept that corporeal lineups are superior to other identification methods.
ARTICLE: Determining Intellectual Disability in Death Penalty Cases: A State-by-State Analysis
by Jennifer LaPrade and John L. Worrall
In Moore v. Texas (2017), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Texas death penalty definitions of intellectual disability were inadequate because they strayed too far from clinical definitions. This study examines how each state defines intellectual disability with regard to death penalty eligibility. It reveals a wide variation in the standards used by states, with no clear consensus on definitions of intellectual disability or who should measure it. Variations pertain to age at onset, proof of intellectual disability status at the time of the crime, burden of proof required to make the intellectual disability determination, and who makes the final decision. Implications and suggestions for the future are discussed.
ARTICLE: The Life-Course of Juvenile Lifers: Understanding Maturation and Development as Miller and Its Progeny Guide Juvenile Life Sentence Release Decisions
by Robert Johnson and Margaret E. Leigey
The U.S. Supreme Court anticipated that most juveniles sentenced to life-without-parole prison terms might well “mature and develop” over the course of their lives in confinement. As a result, the Court maintained that they should be given the opportunity to demonstrate their changed characters and earn a chance at release from prison. In this article, we rely on the research on life sentence prisoner adjustment, together with our experience as experts in juvenile life-without-parole re-sentencing cases. We trace the maturation and development of juveniles sentenced to life terms, a multifaceted process that ultimately leads most juveniles sentenced to life to become solid citizens of the prison community who desist from misconduct, secure regular employment, participate in programs, and develop prosocial identities and reference groups that make them good candidates for release in due course. A caveat is that maturation in prison often entails a self-defensive hardening of emotions that will need to be addressed in reentry programs.
ARTICLE: The Science of Deception Detection: A Literature and Policy Review on Police Ability to Detect Lies
by Jillian R. Yarbrough
Humans have a strong “truth” default, meaning that when processing incoming information, they will passively believe statements made by others. However, idle acceptance can put people at risk for deception (Levine, 2019). Research shows that 60% of people lie during a typical 10-minute conversation (Bradberry, 2017). Considering the pervasiveness of lying, it is easy to recognize deception as a challenge for individuals involved in law enforcement because they are expected to distinguish between truth and lies daily. If deception detection is an essential component of law enforcement, are techniques available that law enforcement can apply during interrogations to improve the chances of effective deception detection? This paper will examine deception detection in the law enforcement interrogation process. Specifically, it will provide an overview of the problem and five strategies law enforcement might use to detect deception, discusses the strengths and challenges of each technique, and offers recommendations to support efficient deception detection techniques in an interrogation.
ARTICLE: A Statistical Analysis of Predictors Associated with the Dramatic Decline in Death Sentences in the United States in the Last Two Decades
by Talia Roitberg Harmon and David McCord
The annual number of new death sentences in the United States has fallen by more than 75% in the last two decades. The current study examines 1,665 death-eligible cases from 1994, 2004, and 2014 to draw empirically based conclusions that can shed light on some significant predictors associated with this dramatic decline. The results of logistic regression models suggest that the following were consistently significant predictors of case outcomes throughout the country over time: multiple perpetrators, age of perpetrators between 18 and 20 years, number of mitigators, cases with high and low aggravation, and five formerly high-volume counties. By contrast, factors that were important predictors of case outcomes in 1994 but that became insignificant in later years were robbery-murder and limited-revenue counties; the murder rate was not significant in 1994 but became significant in later years. Allegations of intellectual disability and county population size were not significant predictors in any of the years.
ARTICLE: The Calculus of Public Corruption Cases: Hidden Decisions in Investigations and Prosecutions
by Kristine Artello and Jay S. Albanese
Acts of public corruption can undermine the rule of law and the legitimacy of the state. Holding public officials to the rule of law through the threat of prosecution is a crucial mechanism to give the law meaning in practice. In the United States, nearly all prosecutions for public corruption occur at the federal level, although many defendants in these cases are officials at the state and local levels of government. When corruption cases are brought, they usually result in a conviction via a guilty plea. However, making these cases is difficult, with only about a third of investigations resulting in actual criminal prosecutions, an outcome much different from those seen in white collar or organized crime cases. In this study, we seek to elicit the decision-making processes that occur in corruption investigation and prosecution. On the basis of 40 interviews with former investigators and former prosecutors, it has been found that experience, access, resources, and institutional barriers are all challenges to successful investigations. At the prosecution stage, prosecutors face a somewhat different set of barriers, including implied legitimacy concerns, thresholds, and potential long-term repercussions. Implications of these findings for policy and resources are discussed.
ARTICLE: Agenda Setting in State Courts of Last Resort
by Phillip Marcin and Nancy Marion
Little academic research has been carried out on the agenda-setting process for judges, particularly in states. This study examines the rhetoric and agenda setting of judges in 47 state courts of last resort from 2005 to 2015. A content analysis of the end-of-the-year speeches delivered by the justices was performed to determine patterns and trends in rhetoric according to political party affiliation, region, proximity to the border, and method of appointment. It was discovered that the topics discussed by state chief justices did not vary over time; that agenda items differed slightly between Republican and Democratic justices; that there were limited differences between the issues discussed by judges in border and non-border states; that agenda items did not differ significantly according to region; that issues mentioned by U.S. Supreme Court justices and state justices differed; and that the method of seating justices did not influence agenda items.
ARTICLE: Livable Term Sentences as Alternatives to Juvenile Life Without Parole: A Sentencing Framework Based on United States v. Grant
by Brittany Ripper and Robert Johnson
In Miller v. Alabama (2012), the United States Supreme Court held that mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles are unconstitutional. In Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016), the Supreme Court made this holding retroactive, leaving the states to fashion new sentencing schemes for juveniles previously sentenced to life without parole. Complicating this task is the debate around “de facto,” or virtual, life sentences, which are term-of-years sentences that extend beyond an individual’s life expectancy. This essay proposes a framework to be used for sentencing juvenile lifers in light of the Supreme Court’s opinions and the Third Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision in United States v. Grant (2018). The framework considers an individual’s life expectancy and health, the national retirement age, and the time needed to reconnect with society. The output is a liveable term-of-years sentence that allows persons sentenced to life without parole as juveniles the prospect of release and the achievement of a meaningful life in the free world.
“Incorrigibility is inconsistent with youth.” — Graham v. Florida (2010).
ARTICLE: Measuring Disproportionate Treatment in Policing: One Department’s Experience
by Heidi S. Bonner and Michele Stacey
Detecting disparate impact in policing practice is essential, but those tasked with developing such inquiry face significant challenges in designing analyses. Racial profiling research has also been plagued by an inability to gain consensus regarding valid comparison groups – commonly termed the “denominator problem” in benchmarking analyses. The current inquiry details the process and outcome of using the disproportionality index (Dolan Consulting Group, 2016) to investigate several enforcement actions at a midsize department in the southeastern United States. The findings highlight the importance of combining the appropriate benchmark with the appropriate level of analysis, and the need for more scholarly inquiry into disproportionate treatment in a variety of law enforcement outcomes. The correlation between selected geographical locations and the disproportionality index in the assessment of disparity during traffic stops, field contacts, and arrest is discussed.
ARTICLE: #Black Lives Matter? Analyzing the Effects of Police-Caused Black Deaths on Media Coverage and Public Interest in the Movement
by Francesca Bordonaro and Dale Willits
Black Lives Matter is a social movement, created and maintained on social media networks; its formation was spurred in part by the number of Black men and women who have been killed by police officers in the United States. This research focuses on the relationship between police-caused deaths of Black men and women and media coverage of and public interest in Black Lives Matter. The primary goal of the research was to determine whether traditional news coverage of Black Lives Matter was linked to the killings of Black citizens by police. We found that Black citizen deaths did not result in increased mentions of Black Lives Matter in either newspaper articles or Google searches. We did, however, find that when police officers were killed at a protest, mentions of Black Lives Matter in both the news and Google queries increased at a substantial rate, as did searches for “Blue Lives Matter.” The implications for police use of force, Black Lives Matter, and traditional news media are discussed.
ESSAY: A Closer Look at the Eric Garner Incident: The New York Police Department Should Review Its Policy Instead of Trying Its Police Officer
by Andrew J. Costello
After an examination of the death of Eric Garner, existing laws and current practices of the New York Police Department (NYPD) come into question. A step-by-step breakdown of the events after the death of Eric Garner explains the outcome of legal decisions of the criminal process against Police Officer Pantaleo made by the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. An explanation and the likely outcome of the NYPD’s upcoming administrative trial are presented from an insider’s point of view. The author argues that the likely conviction of Officer Pantaleo on administrative charges, resulting in his termination, will not produce its intended effect and may be counterproductive in the effort to prevent future deaths of persons in police custody. Suggestions to change NYPD enforcement policy and training, in addition to current New York State law involving access to Grand Jury transcripts and evidence, are presented.
ESSAY: The Eric Garner Incident: Sentinel Calls for Greater Scholarly Support in Policymaking
Joe D. Mazza
The Eric Garner incident serves as a sentinel event exposing weakness in our system of policing low-level offenses. The New York Police Department policy at the center of this encounter lacked a foundation of sound evidence. Administrative mandates forced officers to make a custodial arrest instead of releasing a low-level offender in the field. Combined, they created a condition ripe for tragic results. Custodial arrests should serve important public interests, but none are apparent here. This incident presents a call for greater scholarly partnerships with police and other stakeholders to provide studies with evidence on which better public policy can be based.
ESSAY: Jury Decision Making: Is the Devil in the Details? Observations of a Criminal Justice Professor from Inside the Jury Room
by Julie Kiernan Coon
ARTICLE: Undergraduate Student Knowledge and Opinion About Campus Carrying and Other Firearms Laws
Heidi S. Bonner, Michele Stacey, and Megan Davidson
House Bill 937, passed in North Carolina in 2013, modified the provisions associated with concealed carry permissions on college campuses so that concealed carry permit holders could lawfully possess firearms on campus if they were kept in a locked compartment in their vehicles. The present study sought to explore the knowledge and perceptions of firearm law among a sample of undergraduate college students at one public university in North Carolina in the semester following the change in carrying provisions. The findings showed that students were not knowledgeable about gun laws and tended to be relatively supportive of gun rights, although differences existed among students who owned a firearm. This study expands our understanding of the relationship between gun ownership and perceptions of firearm laws, as well as the link between these two areas and knowledge of gun laws, among college students.
ARTICLE: Eyewitness Identification: Are We Asking the Right Questions?
by M. Dyan McGuire
As courts struggle with issues concerning the admissibility of eyewitness identification, reliability has emerged as a touchstone of due process analysis. Factors commonly considered by courts in assessing reliability include the witness’s opportunity to view the criminal at the time of the crime, the witness’s degree of attention to the crime, the accuracy of any prior description of the criminal, the level of certainty demonstrated at the confrontation, and the amount of time between the crime and the confrontation. Unfortunately, the empirical record, including the results of this study, indicates that these factors do not have a strong or consistent ability to discriminate between accurate, and thus reliable, identifications and those that are in error. The policy implications of the courts’ continued reliance on an inadequate tool for assessing reliability are evaluated, and policy reforms are discussed.
ARTICLE: Finding Prejudice: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel in Lee v. United States
by Michelle M. Watson and Melanie K. Worsley
This paper discusses the 2017 case of Lee v. United States, in which the U.S. Supreme Court held for the first time that a defendant had been prejudiced by his counsel’s misinformation about the deportation consequences of a guilty plea. The Lee case marks a significant step in the Court’s recognition of ineffective assistance of counsel claims and criminal defendants’ right to receive accurate legal advice when deciding whether to accept a plea offer. The Court’s journey to Lee is examined, beginning with its declaration in 1985 that the test for ineffective assistance of counsel claims, established in Strickland v. Washington, applies in the context of plea bargains. The possible implications of Lee are also considered, including reflection on language in the case that appears to provide for widespread relief to defendants but which could conversely lead to a narrow interpretation and application of Lee.
ARTICLE: Elder Care in the United States: Filial Responsibility Laws, Judicial Decisions, and Enforcement Issues
by Sesha Kethineni and Gowtami Rajendran
Filial responsibility (duty of care) laws often require adult children to support their elderly and infirm parents. Some states extend this obligation to close relatives. This responsibility may be enforced via statute or morally encouraged as part of religion within a culture. Given the diversity of cultures in America, the duty of care is difficult to define, enforce, and interpret when such cases come to the attention of the courts. Twenty-nine states that currently have statutes related to filial responsibility vary widely in defining the concept and specifying how to enforce the laws. Because many of these involve neglect rather than overt abuse, enforcing filial responsibility statutes presents a unique challenge for the criminal justice system. This article reviews state legislation and scholarly sources to assess the current laws, court decisions, and enforcement issues.
ARTICLE: Transparency Behind Bars: A History of Kansas Jail Inspections, Current Practices, and Possible Reform
by Melanie K. Worsley and Amy Memmer
Accountability in the corrections system is essential to protecting the well-being and safety of inmates. To provide a better understanding of the methods of ensuring the humane treatment of inmates, this article traces the history of Kansas’s jail inspection policy, beginning with passage of the state’s 1973 jail inspection statute. An examination of the legislative history of Kansas’s inspection statute and jail inspection reports, in addition to oral history interviews with corrections officials, reveals that the statute was effective in providing accountability and producing measurable improvements in jail conditions. The history of Kansas’s jail inspection statute, including its repeal in 1996, also reveals that the statute’s failure to address key issues undermined the overall effectiveness of the legislation. A survey and evaluation of other states’ jail inspection statutes provides guidance so that moving forward, states considering implementing inspection statutes will know what issues an inspection statute should address.
ARTICLE: Droning On: The State and Federal Legal Response to the Deregulation of U.S. Airspace for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems
by Lisa Kay Decker
With the 2012 congressional mandate that the Federal Aviation Administration promulgate rules allowing the use of small unmanned aircraft systems (commonly called drones) in U.S. airspace, many have expressed concerns about potential invasions of privacy by both private citizens and law enforcement agencies. This article provides a survey of the state and federal case law and legislative responses to such concerns through August of 2016, with a detailed focus on legislative enactments creating crimes related to civilian drone use and regulating the law enforcement use of drones to collect evidence in criminal investigations. The article also analyzes and attempts to make sense of the seemingly “hit-or-miss” state legislative responses to the advent of widespread drone use in the United States.
ARTICLE: Grand Juries and Cases of Police Use of Deadly Force: Are Prosecutors Opening a Closed Door?
by Joseph P. Conti
In recent years, considerable national attention has been focused upon cases in which police officers used deadly force that resulted in the death of private citizens. The officers often contended that the use of deadly force was justified under the circumstances. Prosecutors then presented these cases to grand juries to determine whether criminal prosecutions were warranted. Some prosecutors have elected to provide full grand jury reviews that include the presentation of exculpatory evidence or at least evidence favorable to the police. Although prosecutors have no constitutional obligation to provide such reviews, those who elect to provide full grand jury reviews to police potentially open the door to the imposition of legal and ethical obligations to provide such reviews to private citizens who have used deadly force that resulted in the death of another person and who, like the police officers, contend that the use of deadly force was justified under the circumstances.
INVITED ESSAY: County Judges and Cosmetologists: A Preliminary Inquiry into “Constitutional” County Courts
by Larry Karson
ARTICLE: An Analysis of State Statutes On Capital Juror Disqualification and a Proposal for an Exploratory Statute
by Alexander H. Updegrove and Rolando V. del Carmen
Despite increasing unease with the death penalty in the United States, many states continue to conduct capital trials purged of jurors categorically opposed to the death penalty. Death-qualified juries are of great concern because they are more likely to convict and sentence a defendant to death. An analysis of capital juror disqualification criteria in state statutes reveals states heavily emphasize disqualifying prospective jurors who oppose the death penalty, but devote scarce attention to addressing procedures for disqualifying prospective jurors with pro-prosecution and pro-death biases. Roughly half of the states where capital punishment remains legal do not have statutes specifically addressing capital jurors’ disqualification criteria; the half that do have statutes with provisions that are woefully inadequate. This article concludes by proposing an exploratory statute designed to increase fairness in current capital juror disqualification practices.
ARTICLE: Pre- and Post- Conviction DNA Collection Laws in the United States: An Analysis of Proposed Model Statutes
by Xiaochen Hu, Mai E. Naito, Rolando V. del Carmen
DNA is one of the most powerful molecular tools being widely used in criminal investigations today. Pre- and post-conviction DNA collection laws govern when DNA must be collected, where it is stored, and who has access to the information. Currently, all fifty states have post-conviction DNA collection laws, but only thirty states have enacted pre-conviction DNA collection laws. Details of the procedures and requirements in state statutes vary by state. This study analyzes the current statutes to identify strengths and weaknesses and propose a model statute to standardize DNA collection laws nationwide. By using Herbert Packer’s two models for criminal justice processes as a theoretical framework, the proposed pre-conviction and post-conviction DNA laws offer a foundation for states that may consider revising or adopting DNA collection laws.
Invited Essay: Discourses of Death: The Influence of Language on Capital Jurors’ Decisions
by Robin Conley Riner
This paper explores the role that language plays in capital jurors’ sentencing decisions. The research is based on ethnographic fieldwork in Texas death penalty trials, which included post-verdict interviews with jurors who served on those trials. A comparative linguistic analysis was conducted in which the language used in trial, including attorneys’ and judges’ talk in court and jurors’ written instructions, was compared with the language of jurors’ post-verdict interview responses. The paper explores how jurors negotiated the moral difficulty of sentencing another human being to death. The analysis reveals that jurors used language modeled for them in trial as a resource to deny empathy with defendants, thereby justifying sentencing them to death. The paper also illustrates that jurors used particular linguistic constructions to deny their own responsibility for defendants’ sentences, placing the onus elsewhere, such as on the judge or the “law.” The paper concludes with a summary of recommendations to defense attorneys for ways to incorporate the findings into death penalty practice.
ESSAY: Murder Most Human: A Case for a Categorical Ban of Life-Without-Parole Sentences for All Juvenile Offenders with Guidelines for Release Decisions for Former Juvenile Life-Without-Parole Cases
by Robert Johnson