A new report, released on Wednesday, shows that African Americans are twice as likely as white to receive death sentences, according to Mother Jones.
The report, from University of Maryland criminology professor Ray Paternoster, examined the impact race had on sentencing in 504 cases. The findings are striking. From the report:
The probability that the district attorney will advance a case to a penalty trial is more than three times as high when the defendant is African-American than for white defendants (this includes Mr. Buck’s case). This disparity by race of the defendant, moreover, cannot be attributed to observed case characteristics because these cases are those that were most comparable in terms of the estimated propensity score.
This racial disparity is only partially corrected at the jury sentencing stage…Ultimately, among this group of comparable cases a death sentence was twice as likely to be imposed on an African American defendant as a white defendant.
The data helps shine a startlingly light on a 2011 Supreme Court case in which a convicted defendant, Duane Buck, had been given the death penalty because the prosecution said this black defendant would be a threat to others if given a life sentence. The Supreme Court granted a stay of execution in the Buck case.
Although no one involved with the case disputes Buck’s guilt, the defense is appealing for a re-trial based on the above issue.
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