A review of the existing literature on death sentence outcomes (i.e., executions, commutations) shows evidence of differential treatment against minority defendants (e.g., African Americans). However, in large part because data on Latinos is either non-existent or extremely difficult to locate, there is not much on the Latino experience. Most prior studies have followed an African American/Caucasian and/or commutation/execution approach. Latino defendants have either been excluded or treated as a monolithic group. Thus, little is known about death sentence outcomes for Latinos, whose experiences differ from those of African Americans and Caucasians. Additionally, little is known about the treatment of the various ethnic groups (e.g., Cubans, Mexicans) that constitute the largest minority group in the United States, Latinos. Additionally, since the focus has been on executions and/or commutations, there is not much about other possible death sentence outcomes: sentence declared unconstitutional, sentence overturned, and conviction overturned.
Therefore, the main objective of this study is to go beyond traditional approaches and to address these shortcomings empirically by analyzing death sentence outcomes data for California, Florida, and Texas between 1975 and 1995. In addition, this study will explore the effects of legal variables in death sentencing as well as race and ethnicity.