Friday, February 4, 2011

In Louisiana, Odds of a Death Sentence 97% Higher If Victim is White

Reprinted from the Federal Criminal Defense Investigator blog:

A recent study conducted by Professors Glenn Pierce and Michael Radelet published in the Lousiana Law Review showed that the odds of a death sentence in parts of Louisiana were 2.6 times higher for those charged with killing a white victim than for those charged with killing a black victim. The study examined 191 homicides in East Baton Rouge Parish between 1990 and 2008 involving a charge of first-degree murder.

Even after considering other variables such as the number of aggravating circumstances, the number of concurrent felonies and the number of homicide victims, the odds of a death sentence were 97% higher for those whose victim was white than for those whose victim was black.

The authors of the study suggested that one reason why the victim’s race was an important factor was because “prosecutors’ offices, jurors, judges, investigating police officers, and others involved in constructing a death penalty case are (consciously or unconsciously) not as outraged or energized, on average, when a black is murdered as when a white is murdered.”

The authors said “death penalty cases are expensive, and choices need to be made on how often the death penalty can be sought and in which cases”and that “the social status of the victim and the family of the victim, including his or her race, increases [a case's] importance.”


wade said...
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wade said...

Professor Baldus did a study of the same issue in the GA. criminal law system in the '80s. His statistics controlled for 300+ factors and came to a similar conclusion as the LA. study. This is what happened when they put the system on trial;

although the evidence of racism was so compelling SCOTUS could not deny it. They balked at overturning the capital charge, reasoning that the alternative would be to open a floodgate that would undermine the entire system. Precicely what should have happened!

Thankyou for posting this, keep on telling the truth.