Category Archives: Racism

‘Very clear line’ between lynching and death penalty

As a co-founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, Bryan Stevenson is a disruptor of chronic injustices who fights for the lives of prisoners on Alabama’s death row.

“[In the U.S.], 156 people exonerated after being sentenced to death. That means for every 10 people that have been executed in the U.S., we’ve identified 1 innocent person on the row, which is a really shameful rate of error,” Stevenson tells The Current’s Anna Maria Tremonti.

Life Requires More From Us Than Death: Ending The Death Penalty In Charleston, Too

. . . For the first peoples of this land, communities of African descent, other communities of color and poor people, news about America the violent is not really news at all. Ours is a different recognition grounded in a historic set of oppressions established through searing social custom, legislative fiat, religious teachings, and racial taxonomies. Enslavement, segregation, discrimination, criminalization, removal, poverty, second-class citizenship, and all manner of brutality and violation are its legacy. It is a legacy that continues still, nowhere more prominently than in the continued administration of the death penalty. . . . Read more

(source: Alton B. Pollard, III, Ph.D.–Dean and Professor of Religion and Culture at Howard University School of Divinity; Henderson Hill Veteran criminal defense and civil rights attorney and trial advocacy instructor based in Charlotte, NC.—-Huffington Post)

Supreme Court gives black death-row inmate new life

. . . While jurors were being picked, prosecutors had highlighted the names of African Americans, circled the word “black” on questionnaires, and added notations such as “B#1” and “B#2.” On a sheet labeled “definite NO’s,” they put the last five blacks in the jury pool on top. And they ranked them in case “it comes down to having to pick one of the black jurors.”

SCOTUS_2006. . . [B]ecause Foster received a death sentence, it could bolster arguments voiced last year by Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg that the death penalty itself may be unconstitutional.    Read the article: USA Today

When ‘Race-Neutral’ Reasons for Striking Jurors Aren’t Neutral in the Slightest

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case regarding whether Timothy Tyrone Foster lives or dies.

Nearly 30 years ago, an all-white jury sentenced Foster, then an 18-year-old Black kid, to death for the murder of an elderly white woman in Floyd County, Georgia. The prosecution had eliminated every eligible Black person from the jury pool. And once the prosecution had obtained an all-white jury, the lead prosecutor, Stephen Lanier, urged said jury to impose the death penalty in order to “deter other people out there in the projects.” Continue reading: RH Reality Check

Why Is It So Easy for Prosecutors to Strike Black Jurors?

Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Timothy Tyrone Foster, a black man sentenced to death by an all-white Georgia jury in 1987 for murdering an elderly white woman. Foster claims that the prosecution deliberately eliminated all four eligible black jurors.  The state argues that race played no role in jury selection. It’s an odd argument in light of the evidence that emerged decades after Foster’s conviction: in their notes, the prosecutors highlighted the black jurors’ names in green; circled the answer “black” on the questionnaire where jurors had been asked to identify their race; labelled three black jurors “B#1,” “B#2,” and “B#3”; and identified which person to keep “if we had to pick a black juror.”
Continue reading: The New Yorker

Five Death Penalty Cases Tainted by Racism

by Marc Bookman, Atlantic Center for Capital Representation

. . . In 2000, Johnny Bennett, a black man, was sentenced to death in South Carolina for stabbing and killing a friend. . . . Myers himself referred to Bennett as “King Kong” and a “beast of burden,” and elicited from another witness that Bennett’s prior girlfriend had been “a blond lady”—a not-so-subtle reminder to the all-white jury that the defendant had dated a white woman. . . .   Continue reading: Mother Jones