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Argument: Race is insignificant factor in death penalty cases

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Supporting quotations

Michael Nevin, San Francisco based columnist. "Death Decisions". 8 Apr. 2004 - "The issue of race has been cited by critics, who complain that minorities are unfairly chosen for death sentences. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, since the death penalty was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1976, white inmates have made up more than half of those under sentence of death. In 2002, 71 persons in 13 states were executed: 53 were white and 18 were black. The Cornell University study found that African Americans represented 41.3% of condemned inmates while they committed 51.5% of homicides."


Thomas R. Eddlem. The New American. 3 June 2002 - "The majority of those executed since 1976 have been white, even though black criminals commit a slim majority of murders. If the death penalty is racist, it is biased against white murderers and not blacks. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, blacks committed 51.5% of murders between 1976 and 1999, while whites committed 46.5%. Yet even though blacks committed a majority of murders, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports: “Since the death penalty was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1976, white inmates have made up the majority of those under sentence of death.” (Emphasis added.) Whites continued to comprise the majority on death row in the year 2000 (1,990 whites to 1,535 blacks and 68 others). In the year 2000, 49 of the 85 people actually put to death were whites. "


Thomas R. Eddlem. "Ten anti-death penalty fallacies". The New American. 3 June 2002 - "Correction: The claim that the death penalty unfairly impacts blacks and minorities is a deliberate fraud. The majority of those executed since 1976 have been white, even though black criminals commit a slim majority of murders. If the death penalty is racist, it is biased against white murderers and not blacks.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, blacks committed 51.5% of murders between 1976 and 1999, while whites committed 46.5%. Yet even though blacks committed a majority of murders, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports: "Since the death penalty was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1976, white inmates have made up the majority of those under sentence of death." (Emphasis added.) Whites continued to comprise the majority on death row in the year 2000 (1,990 whites to 1,535 blacks and 68 others). In the year 2000, 49 of the 85 people actually put to death were whites.

So how can abolitionists claim that the death penalty unfairly punishes black people and other minorities? The statistics they cite are often technically accurate (though not always), but they don't mean what most people assume they mean. Abolitionists often start by analyzing the race of the victims rather than the murderers. Because most murders are intra-racial (white murderers mostly kill other whites and most black murderers kill other blacks), imposing the death penalty more frequently on white murderers means that killers of white people will more likely be executed. In essence, abolitionists playing the race card argue that black murder victims are not receiving justice because only the murderers of white people are punished with the death penalty. Death penalty proponents may consider this denying justice to black people.

New "hate crimes" laws are likely to worsen the hypocrisy. A "hate crimes" mentality translates into tougher sentences for interracial "hate crimes." Because white people are killed by black people 2.6 times more frequently than black people are killed by white people, more killers of white people will be susceptible to receiving the death penalty than killers of black people."


Gregory Kane. "The crime, not his race, put Baker on death row". Baltimore Sun. 3 Dec. 2005. - Wesley Baker is on death row today for the actions of Wesley Baker. "Racial disparity" had nothing to do with it.[1]


Roger Clegg. "The Color of Death - Does the death penalty discriminate?". The New Republic. June 11, 2001 - Males between the ages of 14 and 24, less than 8 percent of the population, commit almost half the nation’s murders; black males of the same age, less than 1 percent of the population, committed some 30 percent of the country’s homicides in the 1990s.


Brad Zuber. "Death Penalty Déjà Vu". The National Review. 18 Sept. 2000 - Death penalty critics stake their claim of bias on the fact that, while minorities make up about a third of the general population, they make up almost three-fourths of federal death penalty defendants. The proper comparison is not the race of the defendants versus the general population but rather the race of those for whom the death penalty is sought versus those who are death penalty eligible. Here is where the arguments of death penalty opponents are condemned to failure.


Peter Bronson. "Death Penalty Guards What is Valued Most". International Herald Tribune. 8 Mar. 2001 - we hear that the death penalty is racist. Blacks make up 12 percent of the U.S. population, but account for more than 40 percent of prison inmates. They are seven times more likely than whites to commit murder, according to FBI statistics. Yet since 1976, blacks have made up only 36 percent of executions compared with 55 percent for whites, according to the anti-capital punishment Death Penalty Information Center. There is no evidence of racism.


Peter Bronson. "Death Penalty Guards What is Valued Most". International Herald Tribune. 8 Mar. 2001 - we hear that the death penalty is racist. Blacks make up 12 percent of the U.S. population, but account for more than 40 percent of prison inmates. They are seven times more likely than whites to commit murder, according to FBI statistics. Yet since 1976, blacks have made up only 36 percent of executions compared with 55 percent for whites, according to the anti-capital punishment Death Penalty Information Center. There is no evidence of racism.

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