Category Archives: Racism

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

UNL study examines racial bias in death-penalty decisions

A Latino defendant convicted of murder who is poor is more likely to be sentenced to death by white jurors, a new study shows.

The study was conducted by UNL psychology and ethnic studies professor Cynthia Willis-Esqueda and her colleague, Russ K.E. Espinoza of California State University, Fullerton, who earned his doctorate at UNL.

More than 500 white and Latino people called for jury duty in a southern California courthouse participated in the research, and they were asked how they would decide a hypothetical murder case.

Click here to read the complete article at the UNL website.

Racism and the Execution Chamber

The national death-row population is roughly 42 % black – nearly 3 times the proportion in the general population.

After a 7-week freeze following Clayton Lockett’s botched execution in Oklahoma, 3 states executed 3 death-row inmates in less than 24 hours last week. Georgia, Missouri, and Florida had tangled with defense lawyers for months over the secrecy surrounding their lethal-injection cocktails and where they were obtained, a key issue in Lockett’s death. Florida also addressed concerns about its inmate’s mental capacity; his lawyers claimed he had an IQ of 78. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected all appeals, however, and the 3 inmates – Marcus Wellons, John Winfield, and John Henry, respectively – were successively executed without apparent mishap.

In addition to their fates, Wellons, Winfield, and Henry have something else in common. They are among the disproportionate number of black Americans to have been executed since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
Read more: The Atlantic