Death Sentence Review by the Supreme People’s Court in China: Decision Patterns and Variations

China has been making efforts to reduce the number of executions via a recentralized review process under judicial guidelines. This study analyzes 650 Death Sentence Review Transcripts collected from China Judgments Online, aiming to decipher patterns and variations of death review decisions via descriptive facts and circumstances. We find that marital or domestic violence, offender’s guilty conscience or forgiveness by victim’s family, and insufficient heinousness underline the disapproval patterns. In contrast, large number of victims or victim deaths, use of weapon, brutal crime nature, being a ringleader in violent crimes, and significant drug weight in drug crimes describe the approval patterns with a general lack of recognition for mitigating circumstances. However, significant variations existed among approved cases, involving defendants who caused a single death for domestic or marital dispute, had no criminal record, committed a crime of passion, or carried low-purity drugs or acted as drug mules. These variations raise the question of whether the Supreme People’s Court maintains a consistent standard following its own guidelines.

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Work Title Death Sentence Review by the Supreme People’s Court in China: Decision Patterns and Variations
Access
Open Access
Creators
  1. Moulin Xiong
  2. Siyu Liu
  3. Bin Liang
Keyword
  1. Death penalty
  2. Homicide
  3. Domestic violence
  4. Drug
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Article
Publisher
  1. China Review
Publication Date August 2022
Related URLs
Deposited February 27, 2023

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Version 1
published

  • Created
  • Added Xiong_et_al_2022_CR_openaccess.pdf
  • Added Creator Moulin Xiong
  • Added Creator Siyu Liu
  • Added Creator Bin Liang
  • Published

Version 2
published

  • Created
  • Updated
  • Added Scholarsphere Death Sentence Review by the Supreme People’s Court in China.pdf
  • Deleted Xiong_et_al_2022_CR_openaccess.pdf
  • Published
  • Updated Work Title, Keyword, Related URLs, and 1 more Show Changes
    Work Title
    • Death Sentence Review by the Supreme People’s Court in China: Decision Patterns and Variations*
    • Death Sentence Review by the Supreme People’s Court in China: Decision Patterns and Variations
    Keyword
    • Death penalty, Homicide, Domestic violence, Drug
    Related URLs
    • https://www.jstor.org/stable/48683825
    Publication Date
    • 2022-08-01
    • 2022-08