Monday, September 6, 2010

The Data Show ... Very Little

According to this article, there is a "database of death penalty commutations" somewhere which shows that "only [George W.] Bush, who was governor of Texas at the time, reduced a Death Row inmate's sentence during an election year and then went on to win re-election." The observation is made, of course, in response to Ohio Governor, Ted Strickland recent granting of clemency (again, a commutation of a death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole) to Kevin Keith. But it also appears the data base shows:
It's not that clemency decisions aren't made during gubernatorial campaign years -- 12 other governors have done so since the death penalty was reestablished in 1976 -- and it's not that they all go on to lose the race either -- only two of 12 did.
This is because 10 of 13 governors (not including Strickland) in the data who reduced a death penalty sentence in an election year were not even seeking re-election. In other words, the sample size is so incredibly small, only a fool - or a journalist desperate for a headline - would make anything out of it at all. Outstanding. Just outstanding.

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