Age, Class, and Sex Disparities in Capital Punishment

Authored by: Etta F. Morgan

Routledge Handbook on Capital Punishment

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  December  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138651579
eBook ISBN: 9781315624723
Adobe ISBN:


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This essay examines the sentencing disparities of age, class, and sex in death penalty cases. These extra-legal factors have caused an unbalanced scale of justice. On one hand, men are overrepresented in the imposition of death sentences while women have been spared from death sentences at an alarming rate. Of particular importance is one’s class/social status in every phase of the criminal process. Evidence suggests that those of the lower class are punished more severely than the middle or upper-class and are more likely to be sentenced to death. Finally, youthful offenders were a protected class until they began committing serious and violent crimes. Society responded to these criminal acts by becoming more punitive, even sentencing youths to death. The administration of the death penalty has been influenced by each of these factors raising constitutional issues regarding the criminal justice process.

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