State judicial systems and criminal justice
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STATE JUDICIAL SYSTEMS AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE. Methods of Selecting State Judges. Partisan election Nonpartisan election (used in NC) Legislative election (used only in SC and VA) Gubernatorial appointment Appointment plus retention election

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STATE JUDICIAL SYSTEMS AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE

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State judicial systems and criminal justice

STATE JUDICIAL SYSTEMS AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE


Methods of selecting state judges

Methods of Selecting State Judges

  • Partisan election

  • Nonpartisan election (used in NC)

  • Legislative election (used only in SC and VA)

  • Gubernatorial appointment

  • Appointment plus retention election

  • Any of these may be used in combination with a merit selection commission.

  • Each has advantages and disadvantages.


State courts

State Courts

  • State courts handle 97% of the cases filed each year – most federal crimes involve special circumstances

  • Each state has a similar structure of trial courts and courts of appeal (Dye and MacManus, p. 296)

  • Stare decisis: Courts tend to respect precedent and prior decisions (this is the basis of common law)


Criminal justice statistics

Criminal Justice Statistics

  • 62% of the inmates in the SC correctional system are black men.

  • The most common offenses are drug-related and homicide.

  • Racial disparities in incarceration:

    • Higher crime rates

    • Inequitable access to resources (e.g., private attorneys vs. legal aid)

    • Legislative decisions (e.g., disparity in sentencing for crack cocaine v. powder)

    • Overt racial bias


Capital punishment

Capital punishment

  • Most states have it (map, Dye and MacManus, p. 324); IL abolished it in 2011 and this is not reflected on the map

  • TX and VA use it far more often than other states

  • Now applicable only for murder by a mentally competent adult (no other crime merits capital punishment, perpetrator must be at least 18, not retarded, not insane)


Capital punishment1

Capital punishment

  • Disparities in application based on race of perpetrator and race of victim

  • UNC study (2001) found that the black killer of a white victim was 3.5 times as likely to receive the death penalty as the white killer of a black victim in North Carolina

  • Of the 1305 executions carried out nationally since 1976:

    • 18 involved a white killer and a black victim

    • 255 involved a black killer and a white victim


Capital punishment2

Capital punishment

  • McCleskey v. Kemp (1987): US Supreme Court ruled that a black inmate could not use statistical evidence of disparities in sentencing to contest his death sentence; he had to prove discriminatory intent in his own case (In GA at that time, black killer of white victim was 16 times more likely to receive the death penalty than vice vera)


North carolina racial justice act

North Carolina Racial Justice Act

  • Enacted 2009, dramatically scaled back 2011

  • Allowed inmates sentenced to death to present statistical evidence of disparity in sentencing based on the race of the murder or the victim; one person’s death sentence was changed to life without parole under this act

  • Largely repealed in 2011: the race of the victim is no longer legally relevant and the defendant must prove discriminatory purpose in the specific case


Felon disenfranchisement

Felon disenfranchisement

  • 5.85 million ex-felons (1 in 13 black men) are ineligible to vote after their criminal sentences have been served

  • In 11 states, disenfranchisement after a felony conviction is permanent

  • In 35 states, you have no voting rights while on parole (incl. SC)

  • In 30 states, you have no voting rights while on probation

  • In ME and VT, you can vote while in prison


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