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Racial Bias in Executions
People of color comprise 43% of total executions since 1976, while comprising only around 25% of the population. (“Race and the Death Penalty”—American Civil Liberties Union, February 26, 2003)
Since 1977, blacks and whites have been the victims of murders in almost equal numbers, yet 80% of the people executed in that period were convicted of murders involving white victims. (Bureau of Justice Statistics)
On Death Row:
While they make up only 12% of the population, African Americans account for 43% of current death row inmates. (“Death by Discrimination – The Continuing Role of Race in Capital Cases.”—Amnesty International, April 24, 2003)
Jurisdictions with the highest percentages of minorities on its death row:
U.S. Military (86%)
(“Race and the Death Penalty”—ACLU, 2003)
In North Carolina, the odds of receiving a death sentence were 3.5 times higher among those defendants whose victims were white. (Prof. Jack Boger and Dr. Isaac Unah, University of North Carolina, 2001)
Odds of receiving the death penalty in Philadelphia increased by 38% when the accused was black. (“The Death Penalty in Black and White”—Death Penaly InformationCenter, 1998)
During the 1980s, prosecutors in Georgia sought the death penalty for 70% of black defendants with white victims, but for only 15% of white defendants with black victims. (David Baldus, University of Iowa, 1997)
Between 1983 and 1993, prosecutors in Philadelphia voted to remove 52% of potential black jurors while trying to remove only 23% of other potential jurors. (“Race and the Death Penalty”—ACLU, 2003)
Race as a Decisive Factor in Juvenile Death Sentences:
Over 60% of persons sentenced to death for childhood offenses since 1976 have been either African American or Latino.
Almost two-thirds of the current population of juvenile offenders on death row are persons of color.
Of the 21 juvenile offenders executed since 1976, 57% were either African American or Latino.
A Legal Perspective:
Since the U.S. ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1994, the courts and legislatures in the USA have failed to act decisively in the face of evidence that race has had an impact on capital sentencing. (“Death by Discrimination – The Continuing Role of Race in Capital Cases.”—Amnesty International, 2003)