THE MARYLAND PROPORTIONALITY REVIEW PROJECT

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Date
2006-08-30
Authors
Philofsky, Rachel B.
Advisor
Paternoster, Ray
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Abstract
Prior research demonstrated that the death penalty is administered in a discriminatory fashion. This is a problem both legally and morally. There is a precautionary measure called a proportionality review included in several state death penalty statutes which compares death sentence cases with similar cases to determine if the sentence is proportional to the crime based on other crimes with similar characteristics. From 1978-1992, the Maryland State Supreme Court was statutorily mandated to identify and eliminate disproportionate death sentences. Yet, they have not vacated even one disproportionate death sentence. This project evaluates the court's attempt to measure comparative excessiveness among Maryland death sentences. Results support the notion that the proportionality review conducted by the court does not single out and eliminate disproportionate cases as it was intended to do. Conclusions are based on an independent proportionality review of Maryland death sentences in comparison with the findings of the court.
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