Saturday, January 23, 2010

obstinately support the racist death penalty

Robin is a twenty-something white female who spends most of her time writing, and occasionally guest-blogging at swpd and elsewhere; her website: She hopes someday to stop showing her privileged butt on a regular basis, and in the meantime, she continually struggles to accept that she's very much a work in progress.

[Disclaimers: Let me make something clear at the outset: this space is not for debating what I call the death penalty in theory. I don't care whether someone is for or against the idea of killing killers. I'm here to discuss white support for the death penalty in practice -- that is, how the death penalty is currently used in real life in America. I'm going to discuss only its use in America, because I don't know anything about how/if the death penalty is used in racist ways elsewhere. (If anyone more educated about the death penalty elsewhere wants to discuss that, please do.) And now, on to the post.]

Among the different racial groups in the U.S., which most supports the death penalty, and why? Which suffers the most from the death penalty, and why?

The most recent data I could find was the Pew Forum's report from 2007  as to the proportion of Americans (both white and PoC) who support the death penalty. [1] In those polls it was 62%, although that number fluctuates a bit from year to year. [2] There is a division along political party lines [3], but here’s the more important division: when it comes to racial support, a fair bit less than half of blacks (40%) support the death penalty, along with just under half of Hispanics (48%), and 49% of those considered "other" (not white, black, or Hispanic). As for whites? Well, a whopping 68% of whites express support for the death penalty. I'd say when more than two in three American whites support something, it’s a pretty clear example of Stuff White People Do.

And what is it they're doing in this case? They're supporting a system of capital punishment that is inherently racist.

In terms of racism, the most common complaint against the capital punishment system is that its implementation is highly disproportionate -- the percentage of blacks in prison is far higher than their percentage of the population. [4] While the overrepresentation = racism equation is a common complaint, it's actually not a valid one; as Tim Wise puts it, it's "a point that means nothing, since incarceration would logically mirror crime rates, not population demographics." [5] So let's look at the crime rates instead. In 2006 in the U.S., of those incarcerated for murder and non-negligent manslaughter, the percentage of blacks was 51%. [6] The question then becomes: why are blacks under-represented among those executed? Why are they only a third of those who are executed [4b], if they have been convicted of committing [7] over half of the murders? The answer to that question reveals the true racism in this system: whether someone is executed has to do with the race of the victim.

The death penalty is primarily used to punish people, especially people of color, for their crimes against white people -- not for their crimes against people of color. From 1976 to Dec 2009, in terms of interracial murders, only 15 executions involved a white murderer and a black victim. [8] Yet there were 245 executions for black murderers with white victims. (Cases that involved multiple victims of different races were not included in those counts.) This is despite the fact that murders are overwhelmingly intra-racial; 93% of black homicides are against other blacks, and 85% of white homicides are against whites. [9]

A number of studies (including one from the non-partisan U.S. General Accounting Office) conclude that "holding all other factors constant, the single most reliable predictor of whether someone will be sentenced to death is the race of the victim." [10] A recent Yale University study concluded that "black defendants receive death sentences at three times the rate of white defendants in cases where the victims were white, and minorities who kill whites receive death sentences at higher rates than minorities who kill minorities." [11] A black person who killed another black person just doesn't hold the same interest for America’s white-framed judicial system as a white person who killed a white person. [12]

So let’s retreat from statistics for a moment of speculation: maybe the justice system doesn't care about non-white victims because people of color are seen are expendable. When people of color are considered merely a faceless mass, then one of them dying doesn't seem to matter in the grand scheme of things. White people, on the other hand, are seen as individuals, and so the death of each one of us (assuming those whites fall into the appropriate social classes [13]) is considered more important.

Racism also plays a role in getting a black person from the point of being arrested (whether or not they committed the crime) to being on Death Row. Aside from the issue of potential racial bias and profiling by police and/or victims, there's the problem that District Attorneys (who make the decision to pursue the death penalty or not) are overwhelmingly white. [14] The juries are often racially stacked against black defendants -- in one particularly egregious example, an attorney who had been an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia was caught making a training tape for other attorneys, advising them that "young black women are very bad [on juries],” and "You know, in selecting blacks, you don't want the real educated ones." [15] Another study found that attorneys in Georgia used 83% of their “strikes” to get African-Americans off juries. [14]

A look at exonerations from Death Row also reveals an insidiously racist system. From 1973 to 2009, 139 people have been discovered to be innocent after being convicted of murder and put on Death Row. [16] Of those 139, 71 were black. Black people comprise 51% of those later found innocent, despite being only 42% of those on Death Row. [17]

Lest anyone think I'm writing this because I have some sort of anti-death-penalty axe to grind, I don't. I actually support the death penalty in theory. But it's difficult to understand how anyone can support the death penalty as it's currently practiced, unless they’re being willfully ignorant to the existence and effects of racism. Actually, a quick scan of the pro-death penalty resources shows that to be exactly the case -- people, white people in particular, generally are willfully ignorant to the effects of racism on the Death Penalty.

As one clear example, the primary pro-death-penalty site on the Internet has an "Issues" section. [18] They cover these topics: innocence, life without parole, appeals, juveniles, deterrence, and recidivism. Do you see "racism" on that list? No, I don't either. Also feel free to scan their "Articles of Interest" section -- it's full of articles with titles like:

Wesley Baker is on death row today for the actions of Wesley Baker. "Racial disparity" had nothing to do with it.

A response to an editorial in which Bob Herbert defends a murderer in the name of the race card.

Is there no African-American miscreant whose misdeeds are so vile and contemptible that he cannot become a cause célèbre in black America?

All of which raises a question: how can someone educated be aware of these statistics and still support the system in practice? Well, it's pretty straightforward: they refuse to accept the meaning of the statistics. [19][20] They begin with the same analysis I've done here, and then they throw it out the window as irrelevant; as a writer for the conservative National Review opined, “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.” [20] Then they typically go further, by making it appear that whites are actually the injured parties in this equation; As another NR writer put it, “capital charges were actually brought less frequently against blacks (79 percent of the time) and Hispanics (56 percent of the time) than against whites (81 percent of the time)”. [19] In other words, they conveniently ignore the fact that the race of the victim is the major reason why the death penalty is pursued or not pursued.

(And as if that wasn't enough, they sometimes go just a little farther and spin it as not just not racist, but actually beneficial to black people! “Finally, it must be noted that, even if a disproportionate number of African Americans are executed, the beneficiaries of the executions are likely to be disproportionately black, too.” [19])

Prosecutors seek the death penalty far less often in cases where the victims are people of color, and far more often in cases where the victims are white. I'd say that the devaluation of the lives of people of color, and the use of capital punishment to disproportionately punish people of color for killing whites, is quite clearly racist. As well, racism clearly infects every level of the justice system, and black people on Death Row are statistically more likely to be later found innocent than whites.

Nevertheless, a majority of white people continue to support this system in practice. I have to wonder if that’s because they don't know these facts, or if it’s because they don't want to know these facts?


[1] . The stats found there agreed with what I found in Gallup polls from 2005 ( ) - while I am unsure about the Pew Forum's potential bias (it claims to be a "non-partisan, non-advocacy organization"), Gallup is generally considered fairly reputable.
[2] Both Gallup and the Pew Forum confirm that since 2001, support for the death penalty has fluctuated between 62% to 69%, but has been stable within that range for almost a decade. In other words, it’s safe to say in any given recent year, roughly two out of three Americans agree with the death penalty.
[3] According to the Gallup report, 80% of Republicans (commonly considered the "conservatives") support it, along with 65% of Independents. It may or may not surprise you that over half (58%) of Democrats (commonly considered the "liberals") also supported it. When the questioning is changed to self-described "conservative"/"liberal", 74% of conservatives support it and 54% of liberals.
[4] The over-representation argument works something like this: Of those 37 inmates actually executed nationwide in 2008 [4a], twenty were white and seventeen were black. Counting all inmates that have been executed from 1976 until December 2009 [4b], 57% of those were white; 34% were black; 7% were Hispanic; 2% were other. That may look at first glance like more white people are being executed than black people -- and that is true, on a purely numbers level. However, as of the most recent Census (2000), blacks make up only 12.3% of the U.S. population [4c]. Yet they account for a third of those who receive capital punishment. (Of course this is part of a much larger discussion, which is that the U.S. incarceration system itself is inherently racist, but that's a subject of enough depth to merit its own post.) 75% of Americans consider themselves white according to that Census, but whites account for only 57% of executions.
[7] I say "convicted of committing" rather than "committed", because while the conviction rate is 51%, we don't know how many of those are actually guilty. The facts are that there's a long historical context for arresting blacks for crimes they didn't commit, mistakes in reporting, mistakes on the part of eyewitnesses, racial bias on the part of police, etc.
[13] Obviously the deaths of, for example, street-level sex workers (for one example) aren't taken seriously, regardless of their race. Class issues also come into play as well.
[18] / Note that I call it the "primary pro-death penalty site" because it's the first listing that comes up under a Google search for "pro death penalty." which leads me to believe it's the most linked-to site on the topic, as well as being the first pro-death penalty site that comes up when doing a more general Google for "death penalty information."


  1. (quoting the NR)
    >> "'...the beneficiaries of the executions are likely to be disproportionately black, too.'"

    The BENEFICIARIES of an execution?! While it's nice to see the abandonment of the "all of society benefits from the death penalty" argument (unless this is a new "all of society is disproportionately black" trope?), it evidently still needs to be stated:

    No one benefits from an execution.

  2. Yeah, the slant in the article for that quote was basically, "African-Americans kill way more people and they tend to kill their own, so deterring black killers (by way of using the death penalty) will protect more black people than it will white people." ISTR that the author also said something like "protect (law-abiding) African-Americans", which gave me a major WTF moment. Was that to remind his readers that law-abiding African-Americans really do exist (they're not ALL criminals!), or to distinguish them from the non-law-abiding African-Americans (who apparently deserve to get killed)?

    (Also, I seem to have switched the URLs for cites 19 and 20, so in case anyone wants to look up the quote, look up 19 rather than 20. My citation-list-making fail, let me show you it.)

  3. I wish I could be surprised by any of the data and statistics shared, or conclusions drawn, but I am not. At the end of the day these data on the death penalty; Missing White Woman Syndrome; the obsession over “safety” that is keeping millions of dollars of aid from reaching the Haitian people, (which I actually believe to be an unfounded fear of Haitians being looting, violent savages waiting and willing to inflict harm coming on the good-willed, mostly western, educated people who went to help); all come from the same root cause.



    In all fairness, I do not believe this is a new phenomenon- nor is it uniquely American. Just take a look in any history book…

  4. Robin wrote,

    (Also, I seem to have switched the URLs for cites 19 and 20, so in case anyone wants to look up the quote, look up 19 rather than 20. My citation-list-making fail, let me show you it.)

    I edited the post to fix that; let me know if anything else needs fine-tuning.

  5. I've lurked on this site for a while now, but I just wanted to say thanks for including citations. There's something very powerful to me about an argument with facts/evidence to back it up.

  6. "Whether someone is executed or not depends on the race of the victim". Wow!!! That makes so much sense ...I've never heard arguments against the death penalty explained this way.The debates I'm use to seeing in the media against the death penalty make it a human rights issue and that it's "barbaric".And they will point to Europe's ban on the death penalty as progressive and usually their will be a Hollywood celebrity around making the argument.The next segment will be about the Polly Klass murder.Obviously after hearing about the rape and murder of a little girl your first instinct is to fry the fucker that did it.Thank you for an excellent article and explaining the real issues behind the death penalty that normally aren't discussed in the main stream media...

  7. Premeditated murder is illegal, and there is NOTHING more premeditated than the death penalty.

    End of story.

  8. The phenomenon of WP enthusiastically supporting a racist criminal justice system is such old news to me. It's don't know how it has yet to soak into the CW that this is a meme, and it is racist. WP seem to be constantly freaking out about their "safety." (I get the feeling that Protect The White Women syndrome is often at the root of this.) They then agitate for tougher and tougher laws that wouldn't you know it, end up being applied overwhelmingly to PoC— particularly black men. Every. Single. Time. Then it's: "see, that's where the 'danger' is coming from!" It's not just the death penalty; it's domestic violence laws, drug laws, mandatory sentencing, a janky parole system, wrist slaps for police brutality ("well, y'know, it's such a stressful job. they're worried about their safety. shit happens."), even noise ordinances to control "cruising" (which— coincidentally of course!— provide a convenient excuse to search the cars of PoC). And on and on.

    On the individual level, it's all about the Blinders of Privilege. I'm reminded of a blog post I read once (it struck very close to home), where the writer recalled living in her first apt in a semi-shady part of town and having a peeping tom. She called the cops, who took her seriously and stepped up patrols on her street for a week. She gratefully forgot all about it. Until years later, when it occurred to her that she'd spared not a thought for how the increased police presence would affect her (mostly PoC) neighbors. That what had been a solution for her might very well have been a major problem for someone else. And that if she'd been nonwhite, maybe she wouldn't have called at all— in other words, due to the state of things, a WoC facing a peeping tom might've effectively had no police protection at all. Her protection would be buying a baseball bat. Which made her rethink her entire view of the criminal justice system.

    A lot of white people seem to work especially hard to avoid having a similar revelation. We literally indoctrinate children with a white fantasy of the police— shiny uniforms, honorable, serve-and-protect. When you as a PoC discover this isn't true (or at least: that it doesn't apply to you), you can get pretty pissed off. This is why NWA said "Fuck Tha Police." WP took that as "OMG, these negroes love killing cops— which is crazy" when the lyrics are pretty fucking clear: "police think they have the authority to kill a minority... readin my rights and shit, it's all junk."

  9. WOW. Robin, thanks for the research. I had NO idea. It's quite an eye opener.

    (Slight tangent) This reminds me of the 1998 riots that occurred in Indonesia. It was triggered by 4 university students who were killed by the military, and this later led to the downfall of then long-term president Suharto. For some reason the media liked to qualify the victims as 'middle class kids' or 'rich kids'. A friend pointed out that it's as though the media was implying that the government had finally crossed the line this time because now they were killing 'rich' kids, as opposed to lower-class street kids. So I can totally see how the identity of the victim can matter.

    @karinova - Yeah. For some reason the only places where I trust the police to some degree is, come to think of it, where I physically blend in (e.g. Japan and Singapore, both of which incidentally have really low crime rates). I didn't really understand why, because it was just based on a 'feeling' that I had. But it could be related to race.

  10. Robin, this was a really excellent post. I hadn't given much thought to the death penalty. I just saw it as something I don't support, but I had no idea the amount of research that has been involved in showing what a disgracefully flawed system it is. I used to just say "I don't support it," without really going into why. But having this information gives more details as to what I thought was so F'd up about it but hadn't really known where to back up my opinion with a few facts. Thank you.

  11. Beautifully done! I've added a link to this post at the end of my post here.

  12. Thank you for this Robin - so rarely do arguments against the death penalty evoke the reality of it in this country (which, frankly, I believe is the reason that such arguments fail; because it appears most Americans don't view killing killers as wrong).

    I've been staunchly opposed to the death penalty for a long time; in the future, I'm going to incorporate these stats into my arguments. Thank you again.

  13. I have to admit that I was surprised by what I found when researching this article. Before writing it, I knew the system was racist (and classist, and ablist, and sexist) but I thought it was racist for the same reason that I'd always heard: the over-representation of black people. Discovering that that actually _isn't_ a valid reason, and then discovering this whole other level that I would never have expected (that the race of the *victim* is the major determinant) was a surprise to me.

    @BlackLT: I considered not including the cites list and just providing cites if asked for them, but then I realized that the comments section would likely turn into a peanut gallery of people trying to disagree with the statisics. ;) It's better this way. Also, as Macon pointed out when we were batting this post back and forth before posting it, it *is* long - it's best to keep the meat of the post shorter, so in case people only want to read some of it, they're still going to get the overview.

    @karinova, who mentioned wrist slaps for police brutality ("oh, they're under stress, shit happens"): while researching this article, I came across some interesting studies that support the idea that police are quicker to shoot black people. There was one in particular where a variety of people were tested using a video game simulation where they were shown people (white and black) both armed and unarmed, and the players had to make a split-second decision whether to shoot. They tested this on college students, some other groups, and police officers. Across all groups, people were more likely to shoot unarmed blacks than unarmed whites, and quicker to shoot armed blacks than armed whites. This held true even when the participants scored well on tests to measure their hidden biases (meaning, they didn't consciously hold racial bias), and even when the participants themselves were African-American. There's an article here:

    @fromthetropics: I'd say the student situation is definitely related. It's like one of the pro-death-penalty commenters I cited above, who said killing blacks via the death penalty would "protect (law-abiding) African-Americans" - yeah, way to qualify it!

    To most of the others: I'm glad you're finding the article useful. :) (I had feared that nobody would want to read it, or would find it boring due to all the statistics. I'm relieved to have my fears assauged!)

  14. Thank you so much, Robin. I can only second what others have said about how useful this information will be when I discuss/debate this issue again. You've made it very clear, and the point about the race of the victim being the real racism here is a revelation. It's almost as if "whiteness" is purposely protecting or defending itself... sickening, really...

  15. While the overrepresentation = racism equation is a common complaint, it's actually not a valid one; as Tim Wise puts it, it's "a point that means nothing, since incarceration would logically mirror crime rates, not population demographics."

    Somehow, this sentence rubbed me the wrong way, but I'm not sure why.

  16. I was just wondering: does the race of the victim have (more of) an impact on whether the death penalty is sought by the prosecutor or whether the jury ultimately applies it?

  17. @nekokonneko:

    the sentence just confused me, since i would think tim wise would account for the possibility that crime-rate stats themselves would be distorted by racism (profiling by police and victims). is there something i'm missing? this seems like a rather obvious point

  18. I am not sure whether someone is electrocuted depends on the race. More whites have been electrocuted then blacks. Look at the history books.

  19. nub said...

    "I was just wondering: does the race of the victim have (more of) an impact on whether the death penalty is sought by the prosecutor or whether the jury ultimately applies it?"

    I think the D.A. determines whether it's a death penalty case. And since the D.A. is an electable office I think his interest to the voters would be to fufill his campaign slogan "I'm tough on crime". So if his voter majority is white it's likely he'd seek the death penalty for those who murder white people and
    do crimes against them.How the jury pool is made up I'm sure has an effect as well but in a multicultural city like Los Angeles I think it might be hard to get an all white jurys.

  20. @nekokonneko, who said Somehow, this sentence rubbed me the wrong way, but I'm not sure why.: I'm wondering if part of why it's rubbing you the wrong way is because it appears to ignore the racism in the justice system overall - I do mention it in the cites for that paragraph, where I discuss how the over-representation argument works and say: Yet [blacks] account for a third of those who receive capital punishment. (Of course this is part of a much larger discussion, which is that the U.S. incarceration system itself is inherently racist, but that's a subject of enough depth to merit its own post.) I'm planning on addressing that topic in a future post, but this post was already plenty long enough. :)

    I'd suggest reading Tim Wise's article (linked to in the cites) because it really does a good job breaking down the statistics of how black people are over-arrested and over-prosecuted (not specifically Death Row, just overall). Does that help, or am I missing something?

    @Nub: I'd say it has an enormous impact on both, based on the facts that 1) the people deciding whether to go for the death penalty (the District Attorneys) are almost entirely white; and that jury selection is often biased specifically to reduce black representation on the juries.

    @myundiary: Specifically with regards to electrocution, it's approved in some states as an alternate form of death, but generally lethal injection is the standard method these days. As for the numerics, did you read the post? It doesn't claim anywhere that more black people have been executed than whites. (In fact, in the cites section I discuss the fact that more whites, numerically, have been put to death than blacks.) The point is that the death penalty is overwhelmingly applied based on the race of the *victim*, and that white killers who kill minorities (and minorities who kill minorities) get the death penalty far less than black people who kill whites. The lives of PoC victims are devalued. There's other aspects to it too (such as the fact that statistically, black Death Row prisoners are more likely to be found innocent later), but that's the major point. :)

  21. @Mike: Ah, but just because someone is a minority doesn't mean they're unwanted on a jury. ;) The District Attorney training tape I mentioned in the article was about a fellow named Jack McMahon; some of the other comments he made on the tape were: "In selecting blacks, you don't want the real educated ones. This goes across the board. All races. You don't want smart people. If you're sitting down and you're going to take blacks, you want older black men and women, particularly men. Older black men are very good. Blacks from the South. Excellent... If they are from South Carolina and places like that, I tell you, I don't think you can ever lose a jury with blacks from South Carolina. They are dynamite. ... My experience, young black women are very bad. There's an antagonism. I guess maybe because they're downtrodden in two respects. They are women and they're black... so they somehow want to take it out on somebody and you don't want it to be you."

    Yeah, the D.A.s are canny when they're choosing juries. They know to break it down not *just* by race, but also by subcategory: age, sex, education, and geography. I don't doubt that there are D.A.s out there that are doing good jobs, who really do believe in the justice system and don't want to deny anyone a fair trial... but there's also D.A.s like McMahon out there, who will readily admit that the point isn't to "get a competent, fair and impartial jury, but to win. ... The only way you're going to do your best is to get jurors that are unfair, and more likely to convict than anybody else in that room. Because the defense is doing the exact same thing."

    (And when this training tape became public? McMahon had the temerity to say, "My actions in my career have displayed complete sensitivity to blacks. ... I've been representing individuals for the last seven years, and seen their mothers cry. I've been in their homes. No one understands the injustices to minorities done in the legal system better than me." ... ... ...)

  22. off topic but of interest:

  23. myundiary,
    The whole point of Robin's research is to demonstrate that it's the race of the victim that matters. Keep in mind that the US is over 2/3 (non-"Hispanic") white people, and as she noted, white Americans overwhelmingly kill white Americans (85%). If it's the victim's race that matters, it follows that white people would get the death penalty more often. They kill the most white people.

  24. @Robin,
    Ah yes, The Police Officer's Dilemma. I've been pushing that link at people ad nauseam ever since I found it, because it hits several Seriously Important Points about racism in about 4 seconds— which is generally not enough time for people who obstinately refuse to get it, to avoid getting it. Kinda like a blipvert, if you remember that! [From Max Headroom. They were intense, high-powered TV ads so short, they'd be done before you even registered that you were seeing an ad. Like, 3-5 seconds long. By the time you recognized it, got annoyed, and moved for the remote, it'd already be over and the payload delivered. (Minor side effect: they occasionally caused viewers' heads to explode. Too much information.)]

    And BTW, thanks sooo much for doing all this research, and (somehow?!) getting it into a short, tight post that can't be waved away with "wah, it's too long," or "prove it. prove it. more proof. more. more." (Or pity— "poor thing, she's gone all Farrakhan. tsk.") Now I don't have to work myself into an incoherent-with-annoyance, easily-dismissed foam trying to school the militantly obtuse, hurrah! I've already forwarded this to a couple of hard cases I know, and the reply so far has been crickets. WHICH IS HIGHLY UNUSUAL. (I'm kinda hoping you exploded their heads!)

  25. @karinova, who said I've already forwarded this to a couple of hard cases I know, and the reply so far has been crickets. WHICH IS HIGHLY UNUSUAL. (I'm kinda hoping you exploded their heads!)

    Okay, that made me LOL, honestly. (Which prompted my five year old to be all, "WHAT'S SO FUNNY MAMA?!" and I had to say, "Well, I may have exploded some people's heads," and he gave me a o_O look, and I said, "I mean, not REALLY explode, but sometimes when people choose not to think, then thinking can make their head hurt. I may have made some people's heads hurt." He said, "Oh," and returned to Dora the Explorer.)

    Ooh! I'm so keeping that link you posted. It's much more to-the-point than the articles I'd found, and more clear than the research abstracts themselves. Woohoo for, er, blipverts. ;) And there's a link to the program at the bottom! Now I have to test it out myself. ...Okay, about what I expected. It took me 36ms longer to shoot armed whites than armed blacks, and 61ms longer to shoot unarmed blacks than whites (because I was looking closer at the blacks, and STILL got it wrong on a regular basis; hello there, unconscious bias!) although I must say my final score is embarrassing - -370 points. This is just one of the many reasons I'm not suitable to be a policeperson. ;)

  26. FWIW, I scored about as poorly (don't remember the exact number)! And anyway, looking at their data, my conclusion was: it's not so much that I'm not fit to be a police officer, it's that as it stands, American society is not fit to have police!

    Okay, maybe that's a bit dramatic. Police are probably a good idea. But one of the Big Points I get from research like this is a racist society literally cannot help but have a racist justice system. Good laws can maybe keep it from getting worse, but to truly "fix" the justice system, we're gonna have to fix the racism.

  27. @karinova: Amen. Although of course "good laws" are in the eye of the beholder... I've also read the blog post you mentioned earlier about the white woman with the Peeping Tom (although damned if I can remember where it was, either) and that really does cover it. What "good laws" mean to white Americans and what "good laws" mean to Americans of color can be entirely different things. And when they are different things, well, we all know whose version gets passed in the legislature.

    I keep pondering the idea of writing a post about the problems with the greater justice system as a whole, but it's just... it's so massive. The issues are so many and so immense, and the intersectionality complicates everything, and I don't even know where to begin. People spend years and years and years researching the criminal justice system. This post was doable because it's one tiny piece of the overall puzzle.

  28. I thought it might have something to do with geography and the waiting list for execution versus the turnaround on the executions, but I can't find anything to suggest it one way or another.

    It's still a staggering statistic. It's like the racist subconcious of our society.

  29. well, i had certainly been anti-death penalty before, thinking it racist, but this is a view i hadn't taken. now that i think it, it makes a lot of sense, though. absolutely, i believe that in american culture nonwhite victims of any kind are devalued. it makes complete sense that killers of nonwhite victims would not be sentenced to the death penalty as often, if at all as those killers of white victims. this just confirms my belief that the death penalty is unable to be applied "fairly" (if one can ever apply something like a death penalty fairly) in the current justice culture.


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