In the literature on capital punishment, there is little research on the relationship between modern era death sentences and historical lynchings. Past studies have focused on the association of race to sentencing but seldom examined the context of this association. Research is especially lacking on the most current capital sentencing practices in relation to historical context. My research addresses this void by examining data on death sentences (2012-2021) and historical lynchings (1877-1950) at the county level. Bivariate statistical analyses were used to study correlations between several variable combinations. The results of this study suggest little correlation between recent death sentences, historical lynchings, and defendant race at the county level. However, results suggest a practically significant correlation between overall number of death sentences and lynchings at the state level. My findings imply that racially discriminatory practices may be subsiding in capital punishment, especially with regards to death sentencing vis-à-vis historical patterns of lynching. If the results of my research can be replicated, it would indicate at least some movement away from racial biases that have historically plagued the administration of capital punishment in the U.S. It would also imply that, short of abolishing capital punishment, the U.S. take proactive steps to continue to diminish the linkage between capital punishment and historical lynchings at the county level.
Semester/Year of Award
Kevin I. Minor
Mentor Department Affiliation
Restricted Access Thesis
Jones, Lukas B., "The Relationship of Historical Lynchings to Contemporary Death Sentencing Disparities in the United States" (2022). Honors Theses. 908.