Traditionally, capital punishment researchers have emphasized the unequal death sentencing of African American and Caucasian defendants (as well as deterrence, capital punishment states and crime rates v. noncapital punishment states, and capital punishment and crime rates over time, especially during the pre-Furman/post-Furman period). Data on Latinos (and Latinas) is either non-existent or extremely difficult to locate. Additionally, some of the existing information on Latinos contains various reliability and validity shortcomings (see Aguirre and Baker, 1988).1 As a result, only a few studies have examined unequal death sentence outcomes (executions and/or commutations) by race and ethnicity. In particular, it is difficult to find studies that have examined: (1) a capital sentence of the individual when declared unconstitutional by State or U.S. Supreme Court, (2) a conviction affirmed, but sentence overturned by appellate court, or (3) a conviction and sentence overturned by appellate court, as three possible death sentence outcomes by race and ethnicity. Similarly, it is difficult to locate studies that have analyzed the experiences of inmates who still remain under the sentence of death, which by default means life imprisonment. Thus, since no action has taken place, this in and of itself constitutes a possible death sentence outcome.
There are two major limitations to these earlier approaches. First, researchers have been forced to either omit people of Spanish heritage, or treat them as a monolithic group, usually under the broad popular labels of [Hispanic,] or [Latino.] Consequently, important issues have received little attention (see Perea, 1997). For instance, people of Spanish heritage