Assessing the capriciousness of death penalty charging

Robert E. Weiss, Cathrine Y. Lee, Richard A. Berk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


We discuss capriciousness in decisions to charge homicide defendants with capital crimes. We propose using Shannon Information to assess capriciousness in a charging system and apply Shannon Information to analyze new data from San Francisco County, California. We show that about two-thirds of the potential systemic capriciousness is removed by the explanatory variables available. The one-third remaining is dependent on inherently unstable features of charging practices that necessarily produce capriciousness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)607-626
Number of pages20
JournalLaw and Society Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Assessing the capriciousness of death penalty charging'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this