Alabama has the highest per capita death sentence rate. It’s also the last state in which a judge in a capital case can override a jury’s recommendation of life in prison—and instead order an execution. For a Yale Law Journal essay, Katherine Chamblee ’12JD and Patrick Mulvaney, attorneys at the Southern Center for Human Rights, examined Alabama’s record of death-row exonerations. They found that overrides made up less than a quarter of the death sentences, but half of the exonerations. Because judicial override leads to “less reliable death sentences,” they write, it is unconstitutional and should be eliminated.


Teens in states that leaned Republican in the 2012 presidential race were significantly less likely to receive critical vaccinations than those in states that leaned Democratic. Using data from the National Immunization Survey–Teen, a School of Public Health team led by associate professor Linda Niccolai found that HPV vaccination rates in blue states were 10 percent higher for girls, and 25 percent higher for boys, than in red states. The pattern held for a meningitis vaccine and the diptheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine. Niccolai and her colleagues suggested, in the American Journal of Public Health, that parental political affiliation “may influence acceptance of immunizations for adolescent children.”


Last year, when Yale astronomer Pieter van Dokkum pointed an unusual telescope he had built at a smudge more than 300 million light years away, he spotted details others had missed. Recent observations with a more powerful telescope suggest that the object, a Milky Way–sized galaxy called Dragonfly 44, consists almost entirely of dark matter. Van Dokkum and his colleagues hope their discovery, reported in Astrophysical Journal Letters, will help researchers better understand dark matter.

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