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