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Argument: The death penalty is often motivated by discrimination

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Supporting quotations

Byron R. White, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice, former U.S. Deputy Attorney General; Furman v. Georgia 408 US 238 (1972). - The risk of racial prejudice infecting a capital sentencing proceeding is especially serious in light of the complete finality of the death sentence.[1]


"Thoughts on the death penalty". Retrieved May 1, 2008 - "There must always be the concern that the state can administer the death penalty justly, most countries have a very poor record on this. In America, a prisoner can be on death row for many years (on average 11 years {2004 figure}) awaiting the outcome of numerous appeals and their chances of escaping execution are better if they are wealthy and/or white rather than poor and/or black irrespective of the actual crimes they have committed which may have been largely forgotten by the time the final decision is taken. Although racism is claimed in the administration of the death penalty in America, statistics show that white prisoners are more liable to be sentenced to death on conviction for first degree murder and are also less likely to have their sentences commuted than black defendants."


Death Penalty Information Center. "Facts About the Death Penalty". May 1, 2008 - "In 96% of the states where there have been reviews of race and the death penalty, there was a pattern of either race-ofvictim or race-of-defendant discrimination, or both. (Prof. David Baldus report to the ABA, 1998).

  • 98% of the chief district attorneys in death penalty states are

white; only 1% are black. (Prof. Jeffrey Pokorak, Cornell Law Review, 1998).

  • A comprehensive study of the death penalty in North Carolina found that the odds of receiving a death sentence rose by 3.5 times

among those defendants whose victims were white. (Prof. Jack Boger and Dr. Isaac Unah, University of North Carolina, 2001).

  • A recent study in California found that those who killed whites were over 3 times more likely to be sentenced to death than those

who killed blacks and over 4 times more likely than those who killed Latinos. (Pierce & Radelet, Santa Clara Law Review 2005)."


Death Penalty Information Center's page "Race and the Death Penalty"


Robert Grant, Georgetown Professor, "Capital punishment and violence", Humanist, 1-2/04 - "June 1972 the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Furman v. Georgia. The Court ruled that the way in which capital punishment statutes were administered was unconstitutional. After reviewing the statistics from the 1920s through the 1960s, the majority concluded: 'The death sentence is disproportionately imposed and carried out on the poor, the Negro, and the members of unpopular groups.' The conviction and execution of blacks were particularly disparate when the murder victim was white and especially when a white woman was raped."


US Justice Thurgood Marshall, 1990 - "When in Gregg v. Georgia the Supreme Court gave its seal of approval to capital punishment, this endorsement was premised on the promise that capital punishment would be administered with fairness and justice. Instead, the promise has become a cruel and empty mockery. If not remedied, the scandalous state of our present system of capital punishment will cast a pall of shame over our society for years to come. We cannot let it continue."


William Brennan, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice; (5) Demosthenes v. Baal, 495 U.S. 731 (1990); (6) Constitutional Adjudication and the Death Penalty: A View From the Court, 100 Harvard Law Review 313 (1986); "It is tempting to pretend that minorities on death row share a fate in no way connected to our own, that our treatment of them sounds no echoes beyond the chambers in which they die. Such an illusion is ultimately corrosive, for the reverberations of injustice are not so easily confined."[2]


Tom Burch, Kentucky State Rep. (D-Louisville), who in 1974 voted to reinstate the death penalty because he believed it was a deterrent, Cincinnati Enquirer, 29 Dec. 2000. - I've seen the death penalty applied unjustly around the country. I've seen it used for political gain by unscrupulous prosecutors. I've seen it used in a discriminatory fashion against minorities.[3]

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