Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Roberto Pedace

Reader 2

Kerry Odell

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

©2016 Mikayla S. Avalos-Feehan


This paper explores execution rates among states where the death penalty is legal. Following the Supreme Court ruling in 1972 (Furman v. Georgia) which categorized the death penalty as cruel and unusual punishment due to arbitrary sentencing, this paper looks at whether or not executions are arbitrarily conducted by states. By taking into account race of the defendant, race of the victim, heinousness of crime, quality of defense, and public support for the death penalty, this paper seeks answers to the varying rates of executions across the United States. It was however, unable to find causal reasons for differences in execution rates. It did find though, that in some states, a black defendant had a higher likelihood of being executed during 2008-2012. This finding is important because it shows that race matters in some states if you are a defendant on a capital case.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.