State Reports on Capital Punishment Issues

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NCSL's Criminal Justice Program in Denver, Colo. at 303-364-7700 or cj-info@ncsl.org.

Posted August 12, 2010

California
Statutory Authority:
State Senate Resolution No. 44 (2004)
Date Issued:
June 30, 2008
Entity Responsible for the Research: 
The California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice
Summary: 
The commission was charged: (1) To study and review the administration of criminal justice in California to determine the extent to which that process has failed in the past, resulting in wrongful executions or the wrongful conviction of innocent persons; (2) To examine ways of providing safeguards and making improvements in the way the criminal justice system functions; (3) To make any recommendations and proposals designed to further ensure that the application and administration of criminal justice in California is just, fair, and accurate.

Connecticut
Statutory Authority:
Public Act No. 01-151
Date Issued:
January 8, 2003
Entity Responsible for the Research: 
The Connecticut Commission on the Death Penalty
Summary: 
The Commission framed its study upon the fourteen topics set forth in the Death Penalty Act. Some examples of these topics include: whether the administration of the death penalty in this state comports with constitutional principles and requirements of fairness, justice, equality and due process; The financial costs to the state of imposing a death sentence and of imposing a sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of release; Whether there is any disparity in the decision to charge, prosecute and sentence a person for a capital felony based on the race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age or socioeconomic status of the defendant or the victim; An examination of safeguards that are currently in place or that should be put in place to ensure that innocent persons are not executed; An examination and review of any studies by other states and the federal government on the administration of the death penalty.

Maryland
Statutory Authority:
Md. State Gov. Code Ann.§ 2-1246 (2009)
Date Issued:
December 12, 2008
Entity Responsible for the Research: 
Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment
Summary: 
The Commission shall study all aspects of capital punishment as currently and historically administered in the state. The Commission shall make recommendations concerning the application and administration of capital punishment in the state so that they are free from bias and error and achieve fairness and accuracy. The committee found to eliminate racial and jurisdictional bias, to reduce unnecessary costs, to lessen the misery that capital cases force victims of family members to endure, to eliminate the risk that an innocent person can be convicted—the Commission strongly recommends that capital punishment be abolished in Maryland. (Vote 13 for 9 against this particular recommendation)

New Jersey
Statutory Authority:
P.L.2005, c.321
Date Issued:
January 2, 2007
Entity Responsible for the Research: 
New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission
Summary: 
The commission’s final report recommended that the death penalty be abolished and replaced with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The Legislature abolished the death penalty on December 17, 2007 by the enactment of P.L.2007,c204.

North Carolina
Statutory Authority:
N/A
Date Issued:
February 9, 2007
Entity Responsible for the Research: 
The House Interim Study Committee on Capital Punishment
Summary: 
The committee was commissioned to study all aspects of the death penalty. The committee made several legislative recommendations including how juries are selected in capital cases and ways to insure minority representation on a jury when the defendant belongs to a minority race; Mental competency issues; Racial discrimination; Capital Murder; and the Felony Murder Rule.

Tennessee
Statutory Authority:
SB1911/HB 2162 (2007)
Date Issued:
2008
Entity Responsible for the Research: 
Committee to Study the Administration of the Death Penalty
Summary: 
The committee was to "study capital punishment in the state of Tennessee and to make recommendations designed to make capital punishment in Tennessee uniform in its application and administration so that the capital process is free from bias and error." Their recommendations included: Requiring highly trained defense attorneys in capital cases; Make the state set timetables for capital cases so that the appeals process does not last decades; and require police officers to record all interrogations related to murder cases.
Note:  New Hampshire to release a capital punishment study in 2010

*Older Studies As Assembled By Connecticut's 2003 Commission

Arizona 
Capital Case Commission Interim Report (2001)
Prepared by Arizona Attorney General

Kentucky 
Activities, Findings & Recommendations (Interim Report) (July 2001)
Prepared by Capital Litigation Committee of Kentucky Justice Council, pursuant to K.R.S. § 15A.040

Maryland 
Report of the Governor’s Commission on the Death Penalty (4/27/94)
Commissioned by Maryland Governor

Nebraska 
The Disposition of Nebraska Capital and Non-Capital Homicide Cases (1973-1999): A Legal and Empirical Analysis (10/11/02)
Commissioned by Nebraska Legislature

New Jersey 
Report to the Supreme Court: Systemic Proportionality Review Project (6/1/2001)
Report to New Jersey Supreme Court

Nevada 
Legislative Commission, Death Penalty and Related DNA Testing

New York 
Capital Punishment in New York State: Statistics from Six Years of Representation (2001)
Prepared by New York Capital Defender Office

Ohio 
The Attorney General's Report on Death Penalty Appeals
(updated annually, last update 2000)
Prepared by Ohio Attorney General

Virginia
Review of Virginia's System of Capital Punishment [January, 2002]
Prepared by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission of the Virginia General Assembly