Criminal Justice

The Execution State, Not the Death Sentence State

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This year, The New York Times reports, Texas accounted for 62 percent of the country's executions. But contrary to the state's reputation, it is not especially likely to impose death sentences. It is just more likely than other states to carry them out:

According to a 2004 study by three professors of law and statistics at Cornell published in The Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Texas prosecutors and juries were no more apt to seek and impose death sentences than those in the rest of the country.

"Texas' reputation as a death-prone state should rest on its many murders and on its willingness to execute death-sentenced inmates," the authors of the study, Theodore Eisenberg, John H. Blume and Martin T. Wells, wrote. "It should not rest on the false belief that Texas has a high rate of sentencing convicted murderers to death."