Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Criminal Justice

Content Description

1 online resource (viii, 270 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

James R Acker

Committee Members

Frankie Y Bailey, William J Bowers, Thomas W Church, Alissa P Worden


aggravated murder, capital punishment, death penalty, life without parole, plea bargaining, Capital punishment, Plea bargaining

Subject Categories



This dissertation explores decision making and the process of plea bargaining in aggravated murder cases. The study focuses on the extent to which, if any, the death penalty acts as a bargaining tool, inducing guilty pleas to sentences that would otherwise not be accepted, were the death penalty upon conviction at trial not a possibility. The role of the death penalty in this process is an important consideration and one that raises significant implications concerning the human and financial costs of capital punishment. Interviews with prosecutors and defense attorneys in a state where the maximum punishment for murder is death and a state where the maximum punishment for murder is life without parole are used to explore the role and importance of the death penalty in plea bargaining, as compared to the role and importance of a maximum sentence of life without parole.

Included in

Criminology Commons